Paul VI's Barnett chooses Wagner

Posted: January 15, 2012

Paul VI senior Matt Barnett has committed to attend Wagner University on a football scholarship. Barnett also was involved with Boston College, Navy, and Connecticut, among other programs.

"I felt like it was the right place for me," Barnett said.

Wagner, on Staten Island, N.Y., is a Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) program that plays in the Northeast Conference with schools such as Monmouth and Sacred Heart.

The 6-foot-1, 230-pound Barnett, who lives in Washington Township, was a four-year varsity player at Paul VI. A fullback and linebacker, he helped the Eagles to three division titles in his career.

"He's one of the best players and people I've had the opportunity to coach," Paul VI coach John Doherty said.

Barnett said Wagner's coaches project him as a "fullback or big tailback-type" but he could switch to defense. He had seven sacks for Paul VI last season.

Barnett said he plans to major in criminal justice.

Merriweather commits. Eastern senior Darius Merriweather has committed to Southern Illinois, an FCS program in Carbondale, Ill., that plays in the Missouri Valley Football Conference.

The 6-2, 195-pound Merriweather projects as a strong safety or outside linebacker for the Salukis, according to Eastern coach Dan Spittal. Merriweather will join former Eastern player Ron Baines, now a freshman cornerback, at Southern Illinois.

Spittal said Eastern junior cornerback Eli Woodard, a speedy, 6-1, 185-pound athlete, is drawing major recruiting interest. Spittal said Ohio State, Notre Dame, and Rutgers loom as Woodard's top three.

Recruiting visits. Triton defensive end/quarterback Brian Keller has narrowed his college choices to Lehigh, Lafayette, Bucknell, and Holy Cross.

Triton coach Pete Goetz said the 6-3, 225-pound Keller will visit all four schools before making a decision.

Keller was a first-team All-South Jersey selection as a defensive end.

Cherry Hill East's Brian Regan, a first-team All-South Jersey running back, will visit Bucknell and Lehigh, according to coach Tom Coen.

Cherry Hill East linebacker Matt Satchell will visit Colgate, and wide receiver/defensive back Rob Taylor will visit West Chester.

Cape realignment. Mainland athletic director Mike Gatley, the president of the Cape-Atlantic League, said the league is close to finalizing a realignment for football.

The league was broken into three divisions last season but is expected to switch back to two divisions for the 2012 and '13 seasons. The new setup is expected to have Group 3 teams Hammonton, Ocean City, and Oakcrest in the larger American Division with Group 4 teams as well as Non-Public teams Holy Spirit and St. Augustine Prep.

Group 3 Mainland is expected to be in the smaller National Division with Group 2 teams, new varsity program Cedar Creek, and Non-Public power St. Joseph.

Hammonton would be the only public program to play all three Non-Public teams, as the Blue Devils will face crosstown rival St. Joseph on Thanksgiving weekend.

Spirit coach. Holy Spirit athletic director Keith Gorman said the school was close to naming a new football coach.

The Spartans have been without a coach since Chalie Roman resigned in December to become an assistant coach at St. Augustine Prep with the Hermits' new head coach, former Villanova defensive coordinator Mark Reardon.

Former Delran and Penn State quarterback Tony Sacca is believed to be a candidate for the Holy Spirit job.

WJFL schedule. Timber Creek isn't the only Group 3 team that will play all Group 4 opponents in crossover games under the new West Jersey Football League schedule.

Seneca, which like Timber Creek is a member of the Constitution Division, also will play four Group 4 opponents in non-division games: Lenape school district rivals Lenape, Shawnee, and Cherokee, and Washington Township.

"I have always had the attitude, 'Don't get mad over the things you have no control over,' " Seneca coach Bill Fisher said. "I will say that I think with a conference of 65 teams that we could figure out a more balanced system that is fair for everyone.

"I think we should at least have one crossover down, since we have three above with our sister schools, but I have no say in this."

Contact staff writer Phil Anastasia at 856-779-3223,, or @PhilAnastasia on Twitter. Read his blog, "Jersey Side Sports," at

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