Raiders seek 1st win over St. Joe in 44 years

By TOM WILLIAMS

Coaches: Ocean City’s Kevin Smith is 47-50 in his 10th season, tied with Ed Woolley for third in Raider history. St. Joe’s Paul Sacco is 340-66-5 in his 39th season, the most wins in South Jersey history and second all-time in the state. Smith’s teams are 0-4 against the Wildcats, Sacco is 5-0 all-time against the Raiders.

Paul Sacco

St. Joseph Update: The Wildcats lost their season opener, 18-6, to undefeated Holy Spirit. They have won five straight since then. They have no home field this year and generally play home games at Buena. The two common opponents with Ocean City are Millville and Cedar Creek. And they are comparable. St. Joe beat Millville, 56-6, and OCHS beat the Thunderbolts, 36-16. The Wildcats beat Cedar Creek, 49-19, and the Raiders were 45-7 winners. St. Joe is the second highest scoring CAL team (behind OCHS) and leads all teams with 25 rushing touchdowns. But they have not thrown a single touchdown pass. Three primary backs lead the offense. Senior Ahmad Ross (6-2, 221), a West Point recruit, has scored nine TDs and rushed for 817 yards. Sophomore Kevin Mayfield (5=8, 190) has scored seven times and rushed for 277 yards. And junior Cohl Mercado (5-9, 164) , an Upper Township resident, has scored six times and gained 350 yards. Though senior QB Jayden Shertel (5-10, 180) has not done much through the air, he has run for two TDs and 229 yards. He recently committed to Maryland-Baltimore County for baseball. Senior Chase Lomax (6-2, 225) and junior Bryan Butkus (6-2, 283) , both all stars last year, anchor the offensive line. The defense is led by Ross, Lomax, defensive end Keyshon Griffin (6-4, 245), a Rutgers recruit, and senior nose guard Ethan Hunt (6-1, 272), a Georgetown recruit. St. Joe has 18 sacks this year and has intercepted 14 passes, seven by junior Jahqir Haley (6-2, 194), a transfer from Holy Spirit. Sophomore kicker Trevin DelGozzo (5-7, 144) has kicked 25 of 27 extra points.

Scoring Averages: Ocean City 48.2, St. Joseph 32.3.

Defensive Averages: Ocean City 6.0, St. Joseph 10.5

A Will Drain sack (BRIAN GREEN Photo)

Complete OCHS five-week stats are HERE.

Tickets – and more: A total of 500 tickets have been distributed, around 300 of them to Ocean City. Most of those have been made available to OCHS football players, band members and cheerleaders. There will be no tickets available at the stadium. If you do not have a ticket, do not come to Carey Stadium on Friday. If you do have a ticket, you must be wearing a mask to enter the stadium and stay 6-10 feet apart from other fans. Players on the field may remove masks but all players, coaches and others on the sidelines must be wearing masks.

Live Video Coverage: The video produced by Matt Ulmer and Bill Shallcross can be seen HERE, along with more than a decade’s worth of videos of other OCHS games. The game is also the Game of the Week on 97.3-ESPN and can be heard live HERE.

History: Ocean City won the first four games between the two schools through 1976. But St. Joe has won the last 10 meetings, including a 46-7 win in 2017, to take a 10-4 lead in the series. The Raiders last win in the 14-game series was in 1976.

Smith on St. Joseph: “St. Joe is obviously a great program. They are fast and physical and well-coached. To beat them you have to play 48 full minutes. They will wear you down if you don’t meet that challenge. We will have to play our most complete game of the season to win.”

What’s At Stake: The only thing at stake is who will play whom next week. There are no NJSIAA playoffs or formal divisions in the West Jersey Football League. This season is really all about the student-athletes just getting a chance to play.

Mike Gray runs behind a Brady Rauner block (BRIAN GREEN PHoto)

South Jersey Rankings: Ocean City is ranked #6 in The Online 25 rankings, St. Joe is #5. Other CAL schools include #3 Holy Spirit, #9 St. Augustine, #13 Hammonton and #18 Millville. The complete list is HERE.

Other Rankings: Ocean City is ranked #7 in New Jersey by MaxPreps. St. Joseph is #8. But the Born Power Index makes St. Joseph a 3-point favorite in the game.

Last game: The Ocean City-Mainland box score is HERE.

Next week: The NJSIAA/WJFL post-season continues. The Ocean City-St. Joe winner will host Camden next Friday. Though it has not been confirmed as this is written, the loser is likely to play the Williamstown-Hammonton loser.

This week’s full schedule of CAL teams, including cancellations, is HERE.

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