Mainland's Stephen Ordille (17) eludes a tackle from a Washington Township defender in the football game played in the Battle at the Beach showcase in Ocean City, New Jersey on Friday, August 25, 2023. Mainland defeated Washington Township, 26-7. Ryan Fuhs/D2 Sports Network
Week 0 is in the books and the high school football season is now in full swing in the Garden State.
This upcoming weekend's highly anticipated action features a meeting of two rivals separated by the Great Egg Harbor Bay, a pair of Top-10 unbeatens lobbying for bragging rights, and one of the nation's top-ranked freshman athletes making his high school debut. Here's an inside look at five of this weekend's top matchups with players to watch, and a complete schedule of games involving West Jersey Football League teams located throughout the traditional seven-county South Jersey region:
Glassboro (0-0) at Burlington City (1-0), Thursday, 6 pm
The Bulldogs will travel to Wilbur Watts Intermediate School on Route 130 in Burlington City to inaugurate the 2023 campaign. Glassboro finished with a 7-3 record last season and reached the Central Jersey Group 1 semifinals, concluding its campaign with a 42-22 loss to Salem.
Freshman phenom Xavier Sabb will make his high school debut under the direction of his uncle and first-year coach Timmy Breaker. The freshman earned scholarship offers from Georgia, Michigan, Penn State, Oregon, Ole Miss, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Syracuse, West Virginia and Akron before attending his first high school class. His older brother, sophomore Amari Sabb, returns after a breakout rookie season. The older brother rushed for 756 yards and six touchdowns, caught 14 passes for 136 yards and two touchdowns, and snared four interceptions on defense as a freshman. Amari Sabb currently holds offers from Georgia, Michigan, Penn State, Oregon, Ole Miss, Boston College and Rutgers. The offense will be led by freshman quarterback Kristopher Foster. The 6-foot, 170-pound rookie signal caller guided the Glassboro Midget program to a Tri-County United Football League title in 2022.
The defense will be led by hybrid edge rusher and linebacker Caron Wright. The senior accumulated 29 tackles, 18 tackles for loss, 10 sacks and three forced fumbles a season ago. Wright holds three FBS offers from Temple, Charlotte and Tulane. He will be complemented by sophomores Brandon Simmons, Jr. and Jerome Foster. Simmons, Jr., a 6-foot-1, 260-pound defensive lineman, racked up 41 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, seven sacks and two fumble recoveries as a freshman. He holds offers from Charlotte and West Virginia. Foster tallied 43 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, four sacks and a forced fumble. The second-year defensive tackle charted a career-high three tackles for loss and two sacks in a 20-12 loss to Pleasantville a season ago.
Burlington City improved its record to 1-0 with a 33-22 triumph over Penns Grove last Friday. Senior Ayden Shansey completed eight passes on 18 attempts for 197 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions. Shansey also ran for a team-high 48 yards and Malachi Sadler added 42 rushing yards. Dymear Hill shined on both sides of the ball with three receptions for a game-high 105 yards and two touchdowns to complement a forced fumble that translated into a defensive touchdown. Air Force commit and track standout Malachi James showcased his FBS level speed with three receptions for 55 yards and a touchdown.
Glassboro won last year's meeting, 26-20. Wright and Simmons tallied four tackles for loss and three sacks each in the triumph. The Bulldogs' defense sacked Shansey 10 times and Amari Sabb snared an interception in the victory.
Shansey scored three total touchdowns (two rushing, one passing) and threw for 221 yards through the air. James caught four passes for 44 yards for the Blue Devils in the setback.
The pick: Glassboro 26, Burlington City 20.
No. 5 Hammonton (1-0) at No. 8 Cherokee (1-0), Thursday, 6 pm
The Hammonton High School football team, ranked fifth in the 2023 South Jersey Sports Zone preseason Top 15 rankings, dominated St. John Vianney, 35-0, in its season opener at the Battle at the Beach showcase in Ocean City, New Jersey. South Jersey Sports Zone All-South Jersey First Team selection and 2022 Courier Post Offensive Player of the Year Kenny Smith exploded for five total touchdowns, 143 rushing yards and 58 receiving yards behind a strong offensive line spearheaded by Christian Medina and Camryn Broadnax. Smith's five touchdowns tied a school record. Williamstown transfer Drew Craig completed five passes on nine attempts for 93 yards and a touchdown. Jayden Smith reeled in two receptions for 27 yards.
Senior Joey Gillen powered the defense with a team-high seven tackles. Junior Devaughn Colter and senior Ryland Smith each provided a sack. Smith also forced a fumble and sophomore Anthony Mento intercepted a pass.
The eighth-ranked Chiefs held off No. 11 Winslow, 22-19, in their season opener in Marlton last Friday. Senior quarterback Ryan Bender rushed for 71 yards and three touchdowns. Junior Murad Campfield rushed for a game-high 109 yards behind the strength of a dominant offensive line.
Cherokee's defense held the Eagles to 13 rushing yards throughout the duration of the contest and helped the offense build a 14-0 advantage in the second quarter. Tommy Pajic intercepted a pass in the first quarter and was perfect on both of his extra point attempts as the team's kicker.
Hammonton won last year's meeting, 24-14. Smith rushed for 145 yards and two touchdowns while Justin Doughty added 42 yards and a score on the ground. Bender was limited to 69 passing yards and five rushing yards. He also threw a 19-yard touchdown pass and an interception. Cherokee's top two returning defensive players, seniors Austin Lenart and Leo Bluestein, combined for 16 tackles in last year's loss to the Blue Devils.