Phil's Picks in Group Races

Williamstown players enter the field for the S.J. Group 5 title game against Southern at Rowan University, December 7, 2012. ( DAVID M WARREN / Staff Photographer )
Williamstown players enter the field for the S.J. Group 5 title game against Southern at Rowan University, December 7, 2012. ( DAVID M WARREN / Staff Photographer ) (DAVID M WARREN / Staff Photographer)
Posted: September 08, 2013

S.J. Group 5: Williamstown. The defending-champion Braves return their offensive backfield and have one of South Jersey's top all-around players, senior Marques Little. But this group has plenty of legitimate contenders, such as Cherokee, Eastern, Millville, Rancocas Valley, and Southern.

S.J. Group 4: Timber Creek. The Chargers have talent across the board and a seasoned senior quarterback in Dan Williams, and they play with a confidence bred from back-to-back sectional titles. With star running back Ray Lawry, Kingsway could challenge along with Hammonton, Shawnee, and Shore Conference power Lacey Township.

S.J. Group 3: Delsea. The defending champions have a solid offensive line, a sturdy defense, and a top two-way back in senior Rob Rolle, a Villanova recruit. Last year's finalist, Northern Burlington, and Burlington Township will be in the mix, and watch out for Shore Conference contenders Barnegat and Manasquan.

S.J. Group 2: West Deptford. The two-time defending champions enter the season with a 21-game winning streak and have the potential to stretch it to 33 in a row behind Michigan State-bound fullback Gerald Owens and a loaded senior class. West Deptford's biggest challenge should come in two games against Colonial Liberty rival Haddonfield.

S.J. Group 1: Penns Grove. With two-way star Anthony Robertson out for the season with a knee injury, the defending champions won't overwhelm the opposition as the Red Devils did in 2013. But they have enough returning talent such as defensive stars Isaiah Coppage and Raequan Norman to capture another crown. Glassboro is a serious contender behind juniors Juwan Johnson and Ronnie James, and Woodbury also will be in the mix. High-scoring Pennsville is a dark horse.

Non-Public 1: St. Joseph. The Wildcats are overwhelming favorites to win their fifth straight state title and 16th since 1993. And they might be good enough in 2014 and 2015 to win Non-Public 3.

Non-Public 2: Holy Spirit. With a stacked senior class, especially on defense, the Spartans are in position to win their fourth straight state title. DePaul could contend along with Camden Catholic and Holy Cross.

Non-Public 3: St. Joseph of Montvale. The Green Knights might be the state's best team.

Non-Public 4: Paramus Catholic. With Michigan recruit Jabrill Peppers leading the way, the Paladins will be tough to stop. But there will be plenty of resistance from the likes of Don Bosco Prep and Bergen Catholic. St. Augustine and Paul VI could qualify for a berth in this loaded section.

 - Phil Anastasia

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