- St. Augustine (9-2 record): The Hermits went undefeated (8-0) against West Jersey Football League competition in 2021. St. Augustine defeated Millville, 31-17, and added key wins over St. Joseph (24-7), Shawnee (21-7), Holy Spirit (35-21) and North Jersey power Delbarton (28-13) in the NJSIAA Non-Public A quarterfinals. The Prep also notched shutouts against Williamstown (28-0) and Lenape (36-0). The Hermits’ only two losses were to perennial power Don Bosco Prep (17-0) in the Non-Public A semifinals and Archbishop Spalding (34-13) — the third-ranked team in Maryland via MaxPreps.
- Millville (12-1): The Thunderbolts captured the NJSIAA Rothman Orthopaedics South/Central Group 4 regional title with a 45-35 triumph over Winslow at Rutgers University on Sunday. Millville opened the 2021 campaign with a 31-28 statement win over North 2, Group 5 power Union. It reeled off three consecutive wins (one by forfeit), including a 49-39 victory over Shawnee, before falling to No. 1 St. Augustine, 31-17, on September 24. The Thunderbolts notched a quality win over Pennsauken (50-15) before soaring past Ocean City, 40-3, in the South Jersey Group 4 final. Millville secured its first sectional title since 2016 and its second during Dennis Thomas’ tenure.
- Cedar Creek (13-0): The Pirates secured their first undefeated season in program history with a 35-34 come-from-behind win over Woodrow Wilson in the NJSIAA Rothman Orthopaedics South/Central Group 3 regional championship. Cedar Creek won its third sectional championship since 2015 with a 30-13 win over Delsea in the South Jersey Group 3 final. The Pirates opened the season with four consecutive shutouts, including a 36-0 triumph over South Jersey Group 2 finalist Willingboro, and earned back-to-back wins over Woodrow Wilson (21-8) and Holy Spirit (7-6). Cedar Creek’s biggest win of the regular season proved to be a 35-27 victory over WJFL Memorial Division foe Winslow on October 15. James Melody’s squad also notched quality victories over Camden (27-8) and Big Central power Somerville (27-0).
INSTANT CLASSIC.— Kevin Emmons (@OfficialKEmmons) December 5, 2021
Cedar Creek rallies to defeat Woodrow Wilson 35-34 in the NJSIAA South/Central Group 3 Regional Championship. @SJSportsZone 🏈
Devin Kargman’s pass is complete, but ends up inches short of the end zone. @CCHS_Sports @cedar_football @WilsonTigerAD @BatherCoach pic.twitter.com/RlklerrCOa
- St. Joseph (9-3): The Wildcats won seven out of their last eight games en route to a 9-3 finish. Their only loss during that stretch was a 21-10 setback to eventual NJSIAA Non-Public B champion Red Bank Catholic in the Non-Public B semifinals. St. Joe’s walloped South Jersey Group 5 champion Kingsway, 42-6, and defeated Washington Township, 31-21, during that eight-game frame. The Wildcats also defeated Central Jersey Group 4 champion Winslow, 29-6, on Thanksgiving Eve. St. Joseph opened the campaign with a 31-18 win over Northeast (PA) at the Battle at the Beach and also earned a quality win over Cherokee (38-21). It also handed St. Thomas Aquinas (9-1 record) it’s only loss of the season with a 45-12 trouncing in the Non-Public B quarterfinals. The Wildcats dropped decisions to then-No. 2 Holy Spirit (35-24) and No. 1 St. Augustine (24-7).
- Winslow (9-4): The Eagles captured their first sectional championship in school history with a 34-22 victory over Shawnee on November 20. The Eagles only three losses to South Jersey competition came at the hands of No. 3 Cedar Creek, No. 4 St. Joseph and No. 2 Millville, in that order. Winslow stormed back after trailing 28-7 to the second-ranked Thunderbolts in the NJSIAA Rothman Orthopaedics South/Central Group 4 regional championship at Rutgers on Sunday evening. The Eagles fell short, 45-35. Their lone loss to out-of-area competition was a 26-14 setback to Woodbridge at the Battle at the Beach. Winslow rallied from behind to defeat Woodrow Wilson, 32-30, on September 11 and added key wins over Camden (22-20 in OT) and Holy Spirit (52-21) during the regular season.
- Woodrow Wilson (9-3): Woodrow Wilson concluded its season with a 9-3 record following a 35-34 loss to No. 3 Cedar Creek in the NJSIAA Rothman Orthopaedics South/Central Group 3 regional championship. The Tigers of East Camden cruised through the Central Jersey Group 3 playoffs earning notable wins over traditional Shore Conference threats Manasquan (34-7) and Rumson-Fair Haven (28-6), and secured their third sectional crown since 2018. Wilson also defeated South/Central Group 2 regional champion Haddonfield, 44-21, and Holy Spirit, 28-12, during the regular season. It also picked up a 28-12 win over crosstown rival Camden on Thanksgiving. The Tigers only losses were a pair of setbacks to the third-ranked Pirates that reside in Egg Harbor City and a 32-30 decision to No. 5 Winslow.
- Delsea (11-1): The Crusaders rattled off 11 consecutive wins to start off their 2021 campaign. Delsea dominated Delran, 42-14, on September 3 and followed up that performance with a 41-13 thumping of Gloucester County rival Clearview on September 10. The Crusaders also earned convincing wins over Oakcrest (47-16), Hammonton (31-7) and Mainland (42-14). Sal Marchese, Jr.’s program defeated perennial Shore Conference power Wall via forfeit in the South Jersey Group 3 semifinals to advance to its first sectional final since 2017. Delsea’s only setback was a 30-13 loss to No. 3 Cedar Creek in the South Jersey Group 3 final.
- Cherokee (7-3): The Chiefs biggest win proved to be a 56-21 blowout of district rival Shawnee in early October. Cherokee won six of its last seven games with it’s only loss during that stretch being a 34-21 upset to North Brunswick in the Central Jersey Group 5 semifinals. Brian Glatz’s squad also dominated South Jersey Group 5 champion Kingsway, 28-7, two weeks after knocking off the Renegades. The Chiefs dropped two early season matchups to No. 4 St. Joseph (38-21) and then-No. 12 Washington Township (21-14). Cherokee earned dominating wins over Lenape (35-0), Eastern (33-7), Rancocas Valley (38-7), Egg Harbor Township (37-8) and Seneca (42-7). The Chiefs only allowed 29 points in those five wins.
Sophomore quarterback Ryan Bender threw for 147 yards and scored three touchdowns (two rushing, one passing) in his varsity debut as the Chiefs’ defeated Lenape 35-0. Bender also added 47 rushing yards on seven carries. @SJSportsZone 🏈@ChiefsAthletics @Cherokee_HS @Fballchiefs pic.twitter.com/dOUhgVLklR— Kevin Emmons (@OfficialKEmmons) September 3, 2021
- Shawnee (8-4): The Renegades opened the season with a statement as they cruised past eventual South Jersey Group 5 champion Kingsway, 38-0. One week later, Shawnee battled with No. 2 Millville before falling short, 49-39. Tim Gushue’s program proceeded to rattle off three consecutive wins, including a 42-21 triumph over Burlington Township, before dropping back-to-back contests to district rival No. 8 Cherokee (56-21) and No. 1 St. Augustine (21-7). The Renegades’ quest for a fourth straight sectional title ended with a 34-22 loss to No. 5 Winslow. Shawnee lost three of its four contests to teams that finished in the top five of the final South Jersey Sports Zone Top 15.
- Salem (11-2): The Rams cruised past Woodbury, 34-8, in the NJSIAA Rothman Orthopaedics South/Central Group 1 regional championship on Sunday. The victory boosted Salem’s record to 11-2 and solidified the program as the best Group 1 team in South Jersey this season. The Rams opened the season on a four-game winning streak, including a 22-20 victory over Camden at the Battle at the Beach, before dropping a 25-17 decision to Paulsboro. Salem avenged that loss with a 13-12 victory over the Red Raiders in the Central Jersey Group 1 final. The Rams notched dominating victories over Haddon Heights (30-13), Penns Grove (48-13) and Audubon (42-7). Their only other loss came at the hands of Woodstown (20-14) on Turkey Day.
- Woodbury (12-1): Woodbury accumulated 12 wins for the first time in school history and secured its first sectional title since 2009. The Thundering Herd concluded their campaign on Sunday with a 34-8 setback to No. 10 Salem in the NJSIAA Rothman Orthopaedics South/Central Group 1 regional championship. Woodbury turned heads with a 6-0 shutout win over Colonial Conference rival Paulsboro on September 3. The Thundering Herd proceeded to win their next eight games before defeating Woodstown, 8-6, in the South Jersey Group 1 final. Anthony Reagan’s group took home the WJFL Patriot Division crown with a perfect 5-0 division record.
- Ocean City (12-1): The Red Raiders surged to an 11-0 start before falling to No. 2 Millville, 40-3, in the South Jersey Group 4 final. Ocean City posted shutouts in four out of its first five games and secured a WJFL Independence Division title with a 5-0 mark in five division contests. The Red Raiders outscored Mainland (41-7) and Long Branch (45-10) 86-17 the South Jersey Group 4 playoffs before bowing out to the Thunderbolts in the sectional final. Ocean City is now 27-6 since 2019.
- Paulsboro (9-2): The Red Raiders concluded the season with a 9-2 record and were Central Jersey Group 1 sectional finalists. Paulsboro dropped a 6-0 decision to rival Woodbury on September 3 before rattling off eight straight victories. Glenn Howard’s crew defeated Penns Grove, 21-20, before sailing past No. 10 Salem, 25-17, in late September. The Red Raiders dominated South Jersey Group 1 finalist Woodstown (9-2 record), 35-8, before cruising past Sterling, 35-12, a week later. Paulsboro also handed Gloucester (10-1 record) its only loss of the season in the Central Jersey Group 1 semifinals. Howard’s squad concluded their season with a 13-12 loss to No. 10 Salem in the sectional final. The Red Raiders lost two games by a combined seven points.
Tyree “Touchdown”’Thomas?— Kevin Emmons (@OfficialKEmmons) October 23, 2021
The Red Raiders quarterback scored five total touchdowns (four passing, one rushing) in Paulsboro’s 35-8 win over Woodstown on Saturday afternoon. @SJSportsZone 🏈@PaulsboroSports @PaulsboroPublic @PaulsboroNation @ired33 @judav70 pic.twitter.com/Qscr3sS0cA
- Haddonfield (10-3): The Haddons trailed 14-0 in the first quarter before rallying to bring home the NJSIAA Rothman Orthopaedics South/Central Group 2 regional title with a 28-27 win over Point Pleasant Borough on Saturday. The victory capped a surprising postseason run for Haddonfield that included a victory over Raritan in the Central Jersey Group 2 final. During the regular season, the Bulldawgs earned quality wins over division foes Delran (28-14) and Sterling (14-7). Haddonfield dropped back-to-back games to No. 6 Woodrow Wilson (44-21) and South Jersey Group 2 finalist Willingboro (18-10) before storming to seven straight victories. The Haddons also dropped a 36-13 decision to neighboring rival Haddon Heights on Thanksgiving. Haddonfield is now 43-11 since 2017.
T-15th. Burlington Township (8-2): The Falcons won eight out of their first nine matchups of the 2021 campaign. Their only setback during the first two months of the season was a 42-21 loss to No. 9 Shawnee. Burlington Township earned a quality win over Pennsauken (33-21) on October 1. The Falcons also notched consecutive shutouts over WJFL Liberty Division foes Timber Creek (32-0) and Moorestown (42-0). Burlington Township defeated Route 130 rival Delran, 34-28 in overtime, in the opening round of the Central Jersey Group 3 playoffs before being shutout by perennial Shore Conference power Rumson-Fair Haven in the sectional semifinals. Tom Maderia’s squad finished the season 8-1 against WJFL competition.
T-15th. Kingsway (8-5): The Dragons rallied to win five out of their last six games and captured the South Jersey Group 5 title along the way. Kingsway defeated Toms River North, 21-14, for its first sectional championship since 2001. The Dragons fell to Hillsborough, 28-7, in the NJSIAA Rothman Orthopaedics South/Central Group 5 regional championship on Saturday. Hillsborough (13-0 record) finished the season as the fourth-ranked team in the state per NJ.com. Kingsway finished 6-4 against true South Jersey competition with wins over Eastern, Rancocas Valley, then-No. 9 Washington Township, Atlantic City, Lenape and Route 322 rival Clearview. Mark Hendricks’ team dropped three out of their four other losses to three top 10 teams in South Jersey — No. 9 Shawnee (38-0), No. 4 St. Joseph (42-6) and No. 8 Cherokee (28-7). The Dragons were also shutout by Williamstown (31-0).
Others under consideration (listed alphabetically): Audubon (8-2), Bordentown (10-1), Camden (5-5), Camden Catholic (6-4), Clearview (6-5), Delran (6-3), Egg Harbor Township (7-4), Gloucester (10-1), Haddon Heights (6-4), Holy Spirit (5-6), Middle Township (8-2), New Egypt (8-2), Overbrook (8-2), Paul VI (7-3), Pennsauken (8-3), Penns Grove (6-5), Sterling (5-5), Triton (7-3), Washington Township (6-3), Willingboro (8-4), Woodstown (9-2)
South Jersey Sports Zone (SJSZ) was co-founded by Kevin Emmons in 2017. The brand covers high school sports and promotes South Jersey pride. If you’d like to keep up with SJSZ, find them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.