By TOM WILLIAMS
A half-dozen Cape-Atlantic League schools will begin their 2019 varsity football seasons in two weeks – during the Labor Day Weekend.
On Friday, August 30, Holy Spirit will host Mount St. Joseph of Maryland and Willingboro will travel to Egg Harbor City to play Cedar Creek in afternoon games. And, that night, Pleasantville will take on Salem and St. Augustine will travel to State College, PA. Only the Willingboro-Cedar Creek game is a West Jersey Football League (WJFL) division game.
The next day, two CAL programs will be part of a weekend-long program of high school games at Rutgers University. At 2 p.m. on Saturday, August 31 St. Joseph will play Highland in a game that will spotlight two of South Jersey’s most exciting players – Jada Byers of St. Joe and Johnny Martin of Highland. Later that night, Millville will take on St. Peter’s Prep at Rutgers. St. Peter’s features linebacker Cody Simon, an Ohio State recruit.
Those six games kick off another exciting season of high school football.
All of the divisions of the WJFL remain the same as last season (though the NJSIAA playoff format has been changed) and there will be some great match-ups.
St. Joseph will play Millville, St. Augustine will go to Lenape and Cedar Creek will visit Camden on the weekend of September 13-14. The following weekend Williamstown will be at Millville, Highland comes to Oakcrest and St. Augustine visits St. Joseph. During the final weekend of September, Holy Spirit is at Hammonton, St. Augustine at Shawnee and Cedar Creek goes to Woodrow Wilson.
October highlights will include Millville at Cherokee, St. Joseph at Haddonfield, Rancocas Valley at St. Augustine, Millville at Timber Creek, St. Augustine at Holy Spirit, Pleasantville at Buena, Timber Creek at St. Joseph and Delsea at Cedar Creek.
The first weekend of November, which is the final weekend before playoff action starts, Ocean City will visit Mainland, Williamstown is at St. Augustine and Holy Spirit visits St. Joseph.
Wildwood, a former CAL school now part of the Tri-County Conference in other sports, will play two long-time CAL rivals – Middle Township and Lower Cape May – within its eight-game schedule. And Hammonton, another ex-CAL school, will play Oakcrest and Absegami this year, in addition to Holy Spirit.
The West Jersey Football League format has certainly produced some great games and some exciting division races. But many CAL football fans undoubtedly miss games like Holy Spirit-Mainland, Cedar Creek-St. Augustine, St. Joseph-Hammonton and Millville-Holy Spirit, among others.
The football playoff system has changed yet again as the NJSIAA football committee seems to wandering through the woods looking for a perfect system and has made so many turns it can’t find its way out again. Some changes are for the better but the continued blurring of the differences between South and Central Jersey, for example, seem unnecessary.
And New Jersey will again have 10 meaningless public school “bowl” games designed to make everyone long for state championship games.
Still, there will be some great stories, some great games and some memorable performances over the next three-plus months as high school football moves into the spotlight again.
You can see the entire week-by-week schedule for CAL teams in the WJFL here.