Overbrook's Group 4 Title A Boost For Camden County The Rams Own The County's Only Two Crowns This Decade. Gloucester County Has Won 12 In That Time.

Posted: December 08, 1998

Overbrook's thrilling 21-14 victory over Shawnee in the South Jersey Group 4 final not only clinched The Inquirer's No. 1 ranking for the Rams, but it also brought some long-due redemption for Camden County football.

Overbrook is the only Camden County public school to win a sectional title this decade. In addition to winning this year's Group 4 crown, the Rams won the 1990 Group 3 title.

In comparison, other counties have fared much better. Since 1990, for instance, Gloucester County has won 12 public school sectional titles, Atlantic County has won eight, and Burlington County has won six.

Other than Overbrook, the last Camden County public school to win a sectional title was Cherry Hill East, which won Group 4 in 1988. Since the advent of football playoffs in 1974, Camden County schools have won 10 public school titles, or two fewer than Gloucester County has earned in this decade alone.

Gutsy performance. Len Bacon, Overbrook's 6-foot-1, 235-pound senior offensive lineman, wasn't about to miss playing in the Group 4 final.

Bacon had suffered a dislocated left elbow in the Rams' 21-6 semifinal victory over Millville on Nov. 21. On Friday, he received clearance to play in Sunday's game against Shawnee.

Bacon, considered Overbrook's top offensive lineman, played with the elbow heavily taped and participated in every offensive play from scrimmage.

``It meant everything for me to be in this game,'' Bacon said. ``I've been here four years, and we are like a big family. Being able to play and winning this title is so special.''

Bacon said that he likely would be at 100 percent in about six weeks.

Staying together. Woodbury, which began the season 2-2, closed with eight consecutive wins and earned the Group 1 title with Saturday's 21-6 victory over Glassboro.

``The key was that we stuck together,'' said senior quarterback Ryan Kent, who passed and ran for more than 1,000 yards this year. ``Early in the season, there was no finger-pointing.''

While Kent was the acknowledged leader, Chuck Adair, the Thundering Herd's 5-foot-7, 155-pound junior linebacker, was one of the spiritual leaders.

Even in pads, Adair doesn't look much bigger than a waterboy, but he is a ferocious hitter. Saturday, Adair stopped a two-point conversion inches from the goal line. He also also intercepted a pass with 4 minutes, 8 seconds remaining that snuffed Glassboro's final rally, with the Herd leading by 14-6. Glassboro had driven inside the Woodbury 35 before the interception.

``I know teams come out and try to run at me because I'm small,'' Adair said. ``I take it as a challenge, and I like it when they run at me.''

Cape streak. Ocean City's Group 3 championship kept alive an impressive postseason streak among Cape-Atlantic League schools.

Since 1992, the Cape-Atlantic has had at least one public school champion.

Ocean City became the fourth league school to win two titles in that span. The others were Mainland (1995-97), Egg Harbor Township (1992 and 1993), and Hammonton (1993, '94 and '96).

Second-half team. Deptford won all three of its Group 2 playoff games even though it never led at halftime. The Spartans trailed by 13-7 in the first half of their 22-19 first-round win over Moorestown.

Deptford was behind, 14-6, at halftime of its 18-14 semifinal win over Haddon Heights. The Spartans played Gloucester to a scoreless half in the final before winning, 21-0. In the three wins, Deptford outscored teams by 48-6 in the second half.

One is the loneliest number. Only one No. 1 seed won a public school sectional title: Overbrook. Group 3 champion Ocean City was a No. 2 seed, Group 2's Deptford was seeded sixth, and Group 1 champion Woodbury was seeded second.

South Jersey Football Top 10

Final, 1998.

Rk.TeamRec.Comment

1. Overbrook 12-0 The South Jersey Group 4 champion won six games against playoff teams.

2. Ocean City 11-1 Ray Rogers caught 31 passes for 782 yards and 12 TDs for the S. Jersey Group 3 champ.

3. Holy Cross 9-2 Led by senior Brian Obuchowski's 32 TD passes, the Lancers won the Burlco Liberty title.

4. Shawnee 8-4 The Renegades finished the season playing six consecutive Group 4 playoff teams.

5. Mainland 7-4 The Mustangs won seven or more games for the fourth consecutive season.

6. Millville 8-3 The Thunderbolts were the only team to defeat Ocean City this season.

7. Deptford 9-3 The S. Jersey Group 2 champion didn't allow a fourth-quarter point in three playoff wins.

8. Gloucester 11-1 Senior Jason McDonnell had 18 TDs and 34 receptions for the Group 2 finalist.

9. Delsea 9-2 The Crusaders won their second consecutive Tri-County Royal Division title.

10. Cherokee 8-3 Junior Mike Scanzano had 46 catches for 793 yards and six TDs this season.

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