Clearview gets ready for showdown with Shawnee

Posted: October 08, 2013

Clearview won a share of the West Jersey National Division title last season, splitting the crown with perennial power Shawnee as well as South Jersey Group 4 finalist Kingsway.

The Pioneers are back in the hunt for hardware this season, with a 3-1 overall record and 2-0 division mark as they prepare for Friday's National Division showdown at Shawnee.

"This is a true test for us," Clearview coach Mark Deal said. "We're getting better and better every week, but we know this is a big game for the program."

Clearview split with Shawnee in 2012, winning by 20-14 in the regular season and losing, 43-18, in the South Jersey Group 4 playoffs.

The Pioneers are averaging 33 points behind senior quarterback Brendan Lee, senior running back George Kerasinis, and junior running back Joe Coles.

"The big thing for us is that we're way over on plus-turnovers," Deal said. Lee "has been really good at protecting the ball with the way we pitch it all the time."

The Pioneers could get a boost from the eligibility of junior Sterling Sheffield, a transfer from Paul VI who sat out the first 30 days of the season.

The 6-foot-2, 220-pound Sheffield is a versatile athlete who can play wide receiver, tight end, and quarterback on offense and also make an impact on the defensive side. He made a recruiting visit to Boston College over the weekend and also has drawn interest from programs such as Pitt, Virginia Tech, and West Virginia, according to Deal.

Shawnee, the No. 9 team in The Inquirer top 25, provides a good gauge to check the growth of the Clearview program, Deal said.

"Our kids have confidence because we were able to beat them last year," Deal said. "But we know it's going to be a big test for us."

New field. Camden will debut its new artificial turf field at Farnham Park in a 7 o'clock game Friday night against Cumberland.

The pregame festivities will include a parade down Park Boulevard from Camden High School to the field featuring the varsity team, youth teams in football and soccer, cheerleaders, and the Mighty Marching Panthers band.

Camden (3-0) will practice on the new field for the first time on Monday, according to Camden coach Dwayne Savage.

"The boys cannot wait to play at home," said Savage, whose team has not played a home game since Thanksgiving.

Class move. Pennsville senior Dylan Cummings broke former Cherry Hill East star Kevin Foley's South Jersey record for career passing yards on Friday.

On Saturday, Foley sent Cummings a congratulatory text.

"Your high school playing days will be the ones you remember when it's all said and done," wrote Foley, now an Emmy Award-winning producer for NASCAR in Charlotte, N.C. "Enjoy playing with your best friends. All my high school teammates are my best friends now."

Costly win. Eastern coach Dan Spittal said Saturday's 31-28 win over Rancocas Valley was "expensive."

That's because the Vikings lost senior all-purpose standout T.J. Gardner to a knee injury in the first half. Gardner watched the second half on crutches.

Spittal said the injury "doesn't look good" but that Gardner would need further tests this week to determine his prognosis.

"We lose a running back, corner, returner," Spittal said of Gardner's versatility.

Showdown weekend. Clearview at Shawnee is one of several key division games this weekend.

Others include Haddonfield (3-0) at Sterling (3-0), and West Deptford (3-0) at Collingswood in the Colonial Liberty; Eastern (4-0) at Williamstown (3-1) in the West Jersey American; Penns Grove (3-0) at Woodstown (3-0) in the West Jersey Diamond; Holy Cross (3-1) at Cinnaminson (3-1) in the West Jersey Liberty; and Paulsboro (3-0) at Woodbury (2-1) in the Colonial Patriot.

Holy Cross leads the division with a 2-0 mark, but the Lancers face a tough challenge in a Cinnaminson team that is 1-1 in the division but has won three in a row by a combined score of 107-37.

"It's a chance to see where we stand," said Holy Cross coach Frank Holmes, whose team beat New Egypt by 50-0 on Friday.

Cinnaminson is the defending division champion and can seize the high ground in the race with a victory.

"They have a nice group of skill players who make plays," Cinnaminson coach Mario Patrizi said of Holy Cross. "We need to control the tempo."

In the Colonial Liberty, Sterling will look to knock off Haddonfield for the first time since 2005. The Bulldogs beat the Silver Knights by 16-13 on a score in the final 30 seconds last season.

"The kids are very excited," Sterling coach Clint Wiley said. "Haddonfield has a great team that is well-coached."


panastasia@phillynews.com

@PhilAnastasia

inquirer.com/jerseysidesports

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