Wayne Valley vs. Delran, 10:30 am
The Indians stumbled to a 3-7 finish in 2021, losing four out of their last five games. Returning quarterback Alex Scheuplein threw for 276 yards, three touchdowns, and a pair of interceptions. Senior running back Danny Smith led the team in receiving yards with 146 and rushing yards with 338. Smith also accumulated seven touchdowns on the ground.
Overall, Wayne Valley returns six starters on offense and nine on defense.
Former Holy Cross coach Frank Holmes begins his tenure at Delran. Holmes previously served as the Bears offensive coordinator. Previous head coach Garrett Lucas took the head coaching job at Rancocas Valley after compiling a 25-8 record in four seasons at Delran. The Bears finished 6-3 in 2021 and fell to Burlington Township, 34-28, in the Central Jersey Group 3 quarterfinals.
Senior quarterback Derek Namnun threw for 819 yards, nine touchdowns, and four interceptions. He will be protected by senior Kenny Jones, Anthony Scotto, and younger brother, freshman Jake Namnun. Jones holds a pair of offers from Rutgers and UConn.
Sophomore Ezra Thomas is a "football savvy" wide receiver according to Holmes and is expected to contribute on both sides of the ball. Thomas has a great combination of size and speed. Offensive lineman and linebacker Colin Moore is another newcomer to watch at the Battle at the Beach.
The Bears will be tasked with filling the void at running back since Zac Palmer-Smith has elevated to Wagner University. Jimmy Rush and Manny Nolasco are returning letter winners that could see increased opportunities.
Toms River North vs. Washington Township, 1:30 pm
The Mariners reached the South Jersey Group 5 final a season ago and are among the top Group 5 programs in the Garden State entering 2022. Toms River North finished at 6-4 and return 19 starters - nine on offense and 10 on defense.
Dual-threat quarterback Micah Ford threw for 362 yards, five touchdowns, and an interception, while rushing for 505 yards and seven touchdowns. Junior Josh Moore also provided 195 rushing yards. Sophomore Ja’elyne Matthews recently committed to Tennessee and leads an offensive line that returns four starters and five letter winners. Tareq Council and Jeremiah Pruitt are sure-handed wide receivers that can beat opponents with their length and technique.
Defensively, Nick Baiocco powers the front lines alongside Matthews in a 3-4 defensive front. All four starting linebackers and secondary members return for Toms River North.
The Minutemen are coming off a 6-3 record and a surprise loss in the South Jersey Group 5 quarterfinals in 2021. Dual-threat quarterback Jared Dzierzgowski (524 passing yards, four passing touchdowns, five interceptions) will lead the offense. John Williams and DaShawn Long are potentials to emerge as his top targets. The Minutemen's biggest challenge will be alleviating the loss of Jo'Nathan Silver to graduation. The Delaware recruit, along with Nah'mere Graves, provided Washington Township with offensive creativity, power and speed in 2021. Junior Logan Perez rushed for 142 yards and a touchdown and will take on a larger role in 2022. Rutgers recruit John Stone headlines a strong offensive line. Stone will move from tackle to guard. Mike Lackore and Nate Leone are also experienced up front.
Jason DiBlasio leads a deep defensive front that is expected to filter in eight different players and deploy various looks. Mike Tomasetti and Logan Brown will handle the linebacker positions, while Gabe Mosco, Perez, Dzierzgowski and Long will work in the secondary.
St. Peter’s vs. St. Augustine, 4:30 pm
Maryland commit Champ Long threw for 1,849 yards, 20 TDs, and nine interceptions in 2021. His favorite target, Pittsburgh commit Zion Fowler, returns after hauling in 31 catches for 562 yards and seven touchdowns. Three-star offensive lineman Eric King will be tasked with providing Long with protection, in addition to being a run enforcer on the defensive side. King is committed to Temple.
Jayden Bonsu headlines the defense after recently committing to Ohio State. Bonsu tallied 62 tackles, two interceptions, two forced fumbles, and 2.5 sacks as a junior. Cam Richardson complements Bonsu in the secondary at strong safety.
MaxPreps Freshman All-American Xavier Miles is a formidable opponent in the trenches. The 6-foot-3, 300-pound defensive tackle and guard will be tasked with using his physical tools to erode St. Augustine's protection packages. Miles holds offers from Boston College, Coastal Carolina, Georgia Tech, Michigan State, Rutgers and Syracuse, among others.
The Hermits lost a plethora of starters on both sides of the ball to graduation. However, the standard is still high and St. Augustine will feature a powerful front five, which is led by junior guard Vincent Isom, and tackles Noah Cressman and Kevin Quinn. Junior Ryan Gamble and sophomore Rory Friel will battle for the starting job under center. Both players are expected to be contributors.
The defensive attack will be led by 2022 South Jersey Sports Zone Preseason All-South Jersey selections Rob Adamson and Christian Collot. The unit also boasts a pair of Preseason All-South Jersey defensive backs in Na'Cire Christmas and Tristan McLeer. Jake Meyers also provides versatility in the same unit. Brandon Bispo was perfect on his extra points last season and is a reliable punter. His abilities could help the Hermits prevail in close-game situations.
St. John Vianney vs. Red Bank Catholic, 7:30 pm
The Lancers finished with a 3-7 record in 2021. St. John Vianney returns four starters on offense and eight on defense, with a majority serving as two-way players. Two seniors will compete for the quarterback job within in their Wing T offense. Kyle Verriest is a notable returning skill position player guy that has served as a four-year starter on offense. Three returning starters are featured on the defensive line, with the fourth player being an individual that charted significant snaps at the position last season. Linebackers Mike Foley and Christian Buchanan also return for the Lancers.
Red Bank Catholic, the defending NJSIAA Non-Public B state champions and Shore Conference Constitution Division winners, are led by senior running back and North Carolina wrestling commit, Sabino Portella. Portella rushed for 845 yards and nine touchdowns last season and also received All-State honors at safety. Running back Torin Harmon also returns after providing 414 yards on the ground. Senior wide receivers Najih Rahman, Robert Stolfa, and junior Emmanuel Ross form a prolific trio after combining for 1,011 yards and 12 touchdowns a season ago.
Three-year starter Lorenzo Portella and junior Tyler Burnham will anchor the Caseys in the trenches. Junior linebacker Davin Brewton is a menacing force at inside linebacker and registered a team-high 119 tackles in 2021.