After losing to Williamstown in the opening round of the South Jersey Group 5 playoffs, the Washington Township High School football team still had something to play for on Thanksgiving Day.
A victory would give the Minutemen a share of the West Jersey Football League American Division title.
With time to prepare, they regrouped and put together a game plan. Washington Township rebounded for a 28-7 victory to earn a piece of the pie with Cherokee.
“We had seven turnovers in that playoff game and you’re not going to win a game with that,” coach Mark Wechter said. “Going forward, our kids knew if they limited the mistakes we had a legitimate shot at pulling it off.
“We weren’t sure which way they would go, but they kept their guys in there the whole way and we knew they were in it to win it. We just make more plays this time and forced four turnovers.”
Williamstown is slated to play Toms River North for the sectional title Saturday night at Rowan University.
Coming off a 2-8 season a year ago, the Minutemen finished 6-4 overall and went 4-1 in division play. Junior quarterback Mike Piperno threw touchdown passes of 52 and 44 yards to senior Nick Grosso in the victory.
“Our kids have been resilient over the past few years,” Wechter said. “Coming off a losing season, a number of injuries and off-field distractions, most adults couldn’t handle it let alone teenagers. Coming into the season we felt we had talent. If we could stay healthy, we’d be right there. We’re very happy going forward and this will accelerate a positive offseason.”
Stepping down: The first quarterback in Cumberland history and part of its first graduating class in 1978, Tom Lake stepped down as head coach following the Colts’ 22-14 loss to Schalick on Wednesday.
Lake spent the last 10 seasons at the helm, finishing with a career record of 35-65. The Colts qualified for the playoffs twice during his tenure. They went 0-10 this fall.
“I didn’t want my resignation to be tied to the fact that we had a young team or that our record wasn’t the best this year and that I was running out on them,” Lake told The Daily Journal. “We fought every week and did our best.
“Seeing the guys on my team grow was the No. 1 priority to me. It’s great to see these guys get opportunities to continue their education and athletic success in places they might not have had a chance to without football. We have had many kids go to college for Division III ball, but we’ve also had kids move on to Division I universities, and it always felt good to see that happen.”
Rushing champ: Collecting 230 yards on 29 carries in a 29-14 loss to Woodbury, Gateway senior running back Josh Davis will likely finish as South Jersey’s rushing leader.
The 6-foot, 190-pounder ended the year with 1,751 yards and 11 touchdowns on 208 carries. He missed one game due to injury against Collingswood and had two other games where he played just one half.
“It’s amazing with what he’s accomplished,” said coach Josh Mason. “We had a senior-dominated offensive line and our downhill running style was a good fit for him. He’s a real good inside runner.”
Davis rushed for 3,041 yards and 20 touchdowns over the past two seasons.
Positive note: Millville closed out its first season under coach Dennis Thomas with a 21-0 victory over rival Vineland. In the win, senior quarterback Will Polhamus wrapped up his career with a couple of records.
The signal caller completed 13-of-17 passes for 97 yards and a touchdown. That enabled him to finish as the single-season record holder for completions (110) and completion percentage (63.2).
Scoring bonanza: Overbrook put the finishing touches on a solid season with its 63-20 victory over Lindenwold. Tommy Wyatt and Marques DeShields led the way.
A West Point recruit, Wyatt completed 16-of-25 passes for 170 yards and two touchdowns. The senior quarterback also rushed six times for 85 yards and three scores.
DeShields, one of the region’s top juniors, rushed for 93 yards and two TDs. He also had nine tackles, a sack and four punt returns – two of which went for touchdowns covering 50 and 35 yards.
DeShields wrapped up the year with 1,063 yards on 130 carries.
Extra points: Zaire Jones went over the 1,000-yard mark in rushing in Woodstown’s loss to Salem. The sophomore rushed for 125 yards, giving him 1,054 on the season.
Rancocas Valley scored the final 36 points against Burlington Township, including 29 in the fourth quarter, en route to a 48-21 victory. Ricky Jones had a pair of 1-yard TD runs and a 13-yard TD pass to Rob Marks in the win.
Final rankings: The final C-P/S.J. Gridiron Gang Mean 15 will be announced with the year-end all-star package.
Kevin Minnick; (856) 486-2424; firstname.lastname@example.org
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