Improving Camden downs Delsea

Camden receiver Brad Hawkins leaps to snare a pass for a 14-yard gain in the first quarter. Delsea's Brendon Slade defends on the play. CURT HUDSON / For The Inquirer
Camden receiver Brad Hawkins leaps to snare a pass for a 14-yard gain in the first quarter. Delsea's Brendon Slade defends on the play. CURT HUDSON / For The Inquirer
Posted: September 15, 2013

The team is exciting and explosive, and maybe the most stunning fact about Camden's football squad is that, just two seasons ago, the Panthers were 1-9.

Another stunner was Friday night's opening 38-29 win over host Delsea in a West Jersey Football League Royal Division game.

Camden improved to 5-5 last year under then-first year coach Dwayne Savage, and now the Panthers look ready to take another monumental step.

The difference from two years ago?

"Definitely, our coaches and we matured as a team," said Sean Chandler, a Temple recruit who sealed the win with a 43-yard interception return for a touchdown to finish the scoring with 2 minutes, 22 seconds left.

Opposing defensive coordinators will be working overtime attempting to stop this team that has no shortage of offensive options. Chandler caught four passes for 78 yards, including a 58-yard touchdown on a bomb from Khalil Williams.

The junior quarterback completed 13 of 16 passes for 205 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. He also rushed for 49 yards and a touchdown and led an attack that didn't turn the ball over.

"Offensively, especially, they have some weapons," Delsea coach Sal Marchese Jr. said of Camden. "That quarterback makes them tough, especially with his scrambling ability."

If containing Khalil Williams wasn't enough, his twin brother, Khalif, was just as difficult to deal with. Khalif Williams rushed for 42 yards and a score and also had a touchdown on an 85-yard kickoff return.

And then there was sophomore Brad Hawkins, who caught six passes for 107 yards, a 6-yard touchdown reception, and the ensuing two-point conversion run that increased Delsea's lead to 32-21 with 10:38 remaining.

The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Hawkins was a starter in basketball but also looks in place on the football field.

"I think we are coming together as a team and think we can go to the states this year," Hawkins said.

Camden is in Group 2 this year, and while two-time defending champion West Deptford remains the team to beat until proven otherwise, Camden should be a serious factor.

While the defense gave up 29 points, the Panthers had some big-play performers on that side of the ball - including two linemen: 6-4, 275-pound senior Andrew Stevens and 6-4, 230-pound sophomore Ron Johnson Jr.

"It was a total team effort," Savage said.

Delsea, ranked No. 7 in South Jersey by The Inquirer, has won 10 sectional titles, including last year in Group 3, and will still likely be playing in December this year. It got to within 32-29 with seven minutes left on a 4-yard TD run by Rob Hooks (27 carries, 136 yards) and a two-point conversion run by quarterback Rob Rolle.

A Villanova recruit as a defensive back, Rolle was starting his first game at QB and scored on touchdown runs of 71 and 15 yards.

Delsea completed only one pass in four attempts, and Camden had a more balanced attack.

And on this night, the team that wasn't taken very seriously two seasons ago made a loud opening statement that has been clearly heard throughout South Jersey.

Camden 12 12 0 14 – 38

Delsea 7 7 7 8 – 29

C: Khalif Williams 3 run (kick failed)

D: Rob Rolle 71 run (Bronson Deckert kick)

C: Sean Chandler 58 pass from Khalil Williams (pass failed)

D: Rob Hooks 11 run (Deckert kick)

C: Khalif Williams 85 kick return (pass failed)

C: Khalil Williams 3 run (kick failed)

D: Rob Rolle 15 run (Deckert kick)

C: Brad Hawkins 6 pass from Khalil Williams (Hawkins run)

D: Hooks 4 run (Rolle run)

C: Chandler 43 interception return (kick failed)


Marc Narducci: >Inquirer.com

See and hear from Camden's Sean Chandler and Delsea coach Sal Marchese Jr. www.inquirer.com/rallynj


Contact Marc Narducci at mnarducci@phillynews.com.

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