There are several games around the state this weekend that people will talk about. They're big games with league and playoff implications, including the Catholic school matchups against teams from other states.
Here are games that deserve mention:
St. Joe's (Hammonton) at Holy Spirit, Friday, 7PM. These are probably the two best teams in the Cape Atlantic League. Both are returning state champions, Holy Spirit in Non-Public Group 2 and St. Joe's (Hammonton) in Non-Public Group 1. Both teams are at different stages in experience, as Holy Spirit returns twenty starters from last year and St. Joe's (Hammonton) only has two returning. Holy Spirit has an excellent defense and they run the triple option on offense, while St. Joe's runs the Wing-T and have mostly underclassmen starting for them.
Williamstown at Shawnee, Friday, 7PM. Williamstown is the defending Group 5 champion in South Jersey and whipped Cherry Hill East, 67-6 last week, while Shawnee is a top program and beat a good Kingsway squad, 25-19. Williamstown has a very experienced backfield, featuring running backs Marquis Little and John Chamberlin, plus a three year starter at quarterback in Doug Banks. Shawnee has an experienced defense, with eight starters back from last year, including a top player in linebacker Anthony Diorio.
Eastern at Timber Creek, Friday, 7PM. Timber Creek is the defending Group 4 champion in South Jersey and beat Camden Catholic, 34-17, while Eastern beat Washington Township, 63-19. Timber Creek had the Danny Williams to Adonis Jennings connection rolling, teaming up for ten completions and three touchdowns. Eastern is led by QB Tom Flacco and the Vikings scored 49 points in the first half, including touchdowns by the defense and special teams.
DePaul at Paramus Catholic, Saturday, 3PM. With all the publicity the North Jersey Catholic schools have received from playing national games, this is the first division game in the Catholic division. Much has been said of Paramus Catholic and Jabrill Peppers and rightfully so, but there are some good players, including quarterback Steve Shanley, wide receiver Najee Clayton, and defensive tackle Nick Flores. DePaul has explosive skill players. While tight end Justin Nelson and wide receiver Kiy Hester are going to Rutgers, they have a good quarterback in Zach Bednarczyk, a Villanova commit.
Piscataway at Old Bridge, Friday, 7PM. Piscataway, a public school power, lost their opener to Edison, 34-22, and will be tested by Old Bridge, who beat another power in Sayreville, 35-19. Old Bridge runs the triple option offense and returns ten starters on defense. Enjoying big debuts for Old Bridge were quarterback Nick LaVecchia and running back Marcus Lominy. Piscataway is very inexperienced and featured a kick return for a score by Oladiran Isijola.
Old Tappan at Pascack Valley, Friday, 6PM. Two longtime rivals play and both teams are in the running to win a wide open North Jersey Section 1 Group 4 title. Pascack Valley lost 30 seniors and 18 starters from last year's Group 4 runner-up. Rocco Swatek scored three touchdowns for the Indians and Jake Morra is another running back who stars at linebacker. Old Tappan has two three year starters on the line in Rocco Giovinazzo and Anthony Saro, plus running back Zach Alsharif. I will be covering this game for our game story.
I will definitely be at each of these games and I might sandwich the Paramus Catholic-DePaul game in between those two. I will let you know. I would rather see two New Jersey teams paying one another and while I am curious about the two opponents, I am there to see Bergen Catholic and Don Bosco, who I have not seen this year.
Bishop Gorman (Nevada) at Bergen Catholic, Saturday, 1PM. BC had their first win over Jordan (Utah), 56-26. They're having a monster year; so far, from defensive end Kurt Holuba and running back Corey Russo scored four touchdowns last week. Bishop Gorman is 3-1 and their quarterback is Randall Cunningham, Jr., the son of former Eagle Randall Cunningham. They had two running backs each gain over 100 yards last week in Daniel Stewart and Russell Booze.
Miami Central at Don Bosco, Saturday, 7PM. Bosco lost last week to Mission Viejo, 28-25, in overtime. Their passing game has improved under the guidance of quarterback Rob Nutile, a Temple commit, and their defense features defensive back Daivon Ellison. Miami Central is 3-1 and features the running back tandem of Joseph Yearby and Dalvin Cook. Their lone loss is to Booker T. Washington of Miami, one of the nation's best teams.