OCEAN CITY (N.J) - The 2023 South Jersey high school football season kicked off with the West Jersey Football Coaches Association's annual Battle at the Beach showcase.
Mainland runs past Washington Township in New Jersey's first game of 2023
The Mainland Regional High School football team started off its season with a bang, running past Washington Township, 26-7, in the first game of the third annual Battle at the Beach. It was the first high school football game to kickoff in New Jersey in 2023. It was a total team effort on both sides of the ball with four different players scoring a rushing touchdown. Stephen Ordille, Rocco DeBiaso, Cohen Cook, and Liam Kennedy all found the endzone for the Mustangs. On defense, Ordille and Villanova commit Jamie Tyson each snared an interception. Township's lone score came from a yard out on a quarterback sneak by utility quarterback Jared Dzierzgowski.
The tone was set as the Mustangs' defense stifled an experienced and physical Minutemen offense by holding them to only one score, and running the ball at will on offense.
"I think our defense really showed out today and set up the momentum for our offense," Mainland coach Chuck Smith said. "Without the intensity and energy exerted by the defense, I'm not sure if the offense would've matched it on their side."
Kenny Smith's five touchdowns leads Hammonton past St. John Vianney
Junior Kenny Smith racked up five total touchdowns to start the 2023 campaign after accumulating 23 total touchdowns in his sophomore season. Smith rushed for 143 yards (201 total yards) in a 35-0 win over St. John Vianney. The Blue Devils made quick work of the Lancers by establishing a 28-0 lead at halftime. Hammonton quarterback Drew Craig finished 5-for-9 for 93 yards and a touchdown with his line providing him a clean pocket and time for his receivers to create separation.
"I wouldn't be able to run so much if the offensive line in front of me didn't put in the work," Smith said. "The guys up front open up the holes and give me space to move. I have to give all of the credit in the world to them."
Toms River North edges out Millville in battle between state's top public schools
After winning a Group 5 state championship last December, the Toms River North football team established its presence early in the season with a 14-7 win over reigning Group 4 state champion Millville. From the jump, Stanford commit Micah Ford pounded the ball countless times, but to no avail. The Mariners struck first in the second quarter on a 24-yard touchdown run from the Ford. The senior proceeded to find wide receiver Jeremiah Pruitt wide open in the end zone to give the Mariners had a 14-0 lead at halftime. Millville responded as Lotzeir Brooks took a screen pass 42 yards to the house to make it 14-7 late in the fourth quarter. Toms River North Nasir Jackson sealed the victory with an interception.
Ocean City squeezes past Pleasantville to steal home-opening win
The Ocean City High School started off it's 2023 season on the right foot, by pulling the rug out from under a very talented Pleasantville team. The Red Raiders scored 14 unanswered points to secure a 14-6 win. Quarterback Walker Bailey left the game with an injury and backup Ryan Hendricks answered the call. Hendricks showed poise and led the Red Raiders offense in its comeback with touchdown passes to Duke Guenther and Jon Moyer. The sophomore finished 6-for-8 for 35 yards and two touchdowns in the win.