GLOUCESTER TOWNSHIP (N.J.) - After accumulating an underwhelming 6-11 record over the previous two seasons, the Timber Creek Regional High School football team grew determined to make a statement.
The Chargers penciled wins over St. Thomas Aquinas, Camden Catholic and Willingboro in their first three contests to inaugurate the 2022 season.
Brian Wright's squad then added an exclamation point to it's introductory statement with a 28-15 triumph over previously-undefeated Rancocas Valley on Friday night.
Timber Creek improved its record to 4-0, its best start since 2017, and moved a game ahead of the Red Devils in the West Jersey Football League Memorial Division standings.
"We feel a lot of people in South Jersey don't respect us," Timber Creek running back Nasir Reason-Dallas said. "They see what this team did 10 years ago, five years ago. We building a new culture over here.
"We love those guys that came before us, but we felt like we really needed to prove ourselves tonight. I feel like we did that for sure."
The Chargers capped a 10-play, 63-yard opening drive with a one-yard rushing touchdown by Monmouth commit Zyheem Coleman-Frazier with 6:26 left in the first quarter.
Coleman-Frazier darted for a 65-yard touchdown on a punt return to increase Timber Creek's lead to 14-0 with 9:13 left in the second quarter.
"My coach called return left," the Monmouth commit said. "I know what I have to do. I have to get to that assignment. I caught the ball, I went left and I used my speed to get down the sideline, I cut back and I was in the end zone."
Coleman-Frazier finished the contest with two touchdowns and five receptions for 47 yards.
"He's special," Wright said. "He's one of a kind. I'm glad he's ours. We have a really good relationship. I don't know why people keep kicking the ball to him. I hope they do, but he's a difference maker. Anything we need the kid to do, he's been there all year for us."
Rancocas Valley's Kevin Burr powered his way into the end zone for a five-yard touchdown to cut the deficit to 14-7 and create momentum with 42.3 seconds left in the opening half.
The Chargers retaliated with 14 unanswered points courtesy of a 41-yard touchdown strike from Victor Oquendo to a wide open Jonathan Harris, and a rushing score by Reason-Dallas to establish a 28-7 advantage with 4:07 remaining in regulation.
The Red Devils suffered their first loss under first-year coach Garrett Lucas after winning their first three contests of the 2022 campaign.
"We came out way too flat," Lucas said. "We're in the growing pains of rebuilding a culture. A 3-0 start is a terrific start for us, but with that said, there's going to be lumps facing adversity. Nobody ever wants to lose, but sometimes you need to wake up a little bit and understand where you need to grow."
Rancocas Valley will visit neighboring rival Burlington Township on September 23.
The Chargers hope to carry the momentum of their fourth consecutive win into next Friday's meeting with Cherry Hill West.
"I think we're just kind of scratching the surface right now," Wright said. "We are so young. We have some veterans on the backend of it, but we are extremely young, which presents its own certain headaches. On the football field, they're doing everything we're asking and it's been a lot of fun."