By TOM WILLIAMS
When Ocean City faces Oakcrest Saturday in Mays Landing, the Raiders will be one of five Cape-Atlantic League football teams looking to clinch West Jersey Football League division titles..
The Raiders (7-0) would complete a perfect 5-0 season in the Independence Division with a win. It would be the first WJFL title by Ocean City and the first league championship since Gary Degenhardt’s 2001 team won the CAL’s American Conference.
Also on Saturday, Cedar Creek will host Camden with a chance to win the Memorial Division and St. Joseph will host Washington Township with the Continental Division title at stake. On Friday night, Mainland can clinch a tie for the Royal Division championship by upsetting undefeated Delsea. And St. Augustine hopes to win the American Division with a win over Shawnee. The complete schedule for the weekend, plus standings of all divisions that include CAL teams, is HERE.
OCHS has a 22-9 lead over Oakcrest in the all-time series and has won the last two meetings.
Kevin Smith, Ocean City’s coach, enters Saturday’s game with a 55-52 coaching record. That is the 20th most wins among active coaches in South Jersey and puts him six wins away from Fenton Carey’s 61 wins, the second most in OCHS football history.
Six Raiders are among the CAL stat leaders entering the weekend. That includes Sean Mazzitelli and Jacob Wilson in rushing, Riley Gunnels in passing efficiency and Jack Hoag, Patrick Lonergan and Mike Gray in receiving. Millville’s LeQuint Allen leads CAL backs in rushing, Middle Township’s Brett Nabb in passing efficiency and JoJo Bermudez of Cedar Creek leads in receiving yards. The stats of 22 rushing leaders, 16 QBs and 32 receivers are HERE.
Absegami’s Ray Weed enters Friday’s game against Seneca in Galloway Township with 2,217 career rushing yards and 4,213 career passing yards. He is the first player at a CAL school with 2,000/4,000 and only the third in South Jersey history. Weed joins Dylan Cummings (Pennsville, 2010-13) and Bill Belton (Winslow Township, 2009-10) as the only South Jersey players to accomplish that.
Other records by CAL players were broken last weekend. QB Nate Robbins of Millville threw for 408 yards in a win over Williamstown to break the 13-year old record of 380 yards by Middle Township’s Nolan Quinn. And Bermudez increased his CAL record for career pass receptions to 151 and his record for career receiving yardage to 2,495. JoJo had broken the reception record held by Ocean City’s Jake Schneider and the yardage record of Cedar Creek’s Bo Melton earlier in the year.
Mike Gray of Ocean City caught three TD passes at Pemberton last Saturday, tying the school single-game record set twice by Dave Slaughter in 1974. It was tied by Joe Myers in 1976, Rick Lipford in 1993, Scott Lipford three times in 1996, Bob Shallcross in 2016 and Brandon Lashley twice in 2018. But you can be sure that Mike is frustrated by the wide-open pass he dropped in the end zone in the first quarter, something he rarely does. Had he caught a fourth TD pass, he would have tied the CAL record and Riley Gunnels would have tied the CAL record with five TD passes in a game.
Kickers have been a factor this season. Ocean City’s Brendan McGonigle has 135 career kicking points, fourth all-time by a CAL kicker. He trails Cedar Creek’s Pat Moran (152), Holy Spirit’s Tom Worthington (149) and Mainland’s Jim Cooper (147). Trevin DelGozzo of St. Joseph, a junior, has 105 kicking points. McGonigle has 10 career field goals, one away from tying the school and Cape May County record by former Raider Chris Curran.
The NJSIAA playoffs are two weeks away and 11 CAL teams are currently in the picture. If the playoffs were this week, Egg Harbor Township would travel to Cherokee in Group 5; Top-seeded Millville would host Moorestown, Ocean City would host Freehold Boro and Mainland would host Colts Neck in Group 4; Cedar Creek would host Robbinsville and Absegami would visit Rumson-Fair Haven in Group 3; And St. Augustine, Holy Spirit and St. Joseph would qualify in Non-Public tournaments, which will be seeded by a committee.
Group Two changed in the last two days. Originally, Middle Township would have visited Camden but since Camden was disqualified from the playoffs by violating the ejection rule, things are different. Middle would now visit Delaware Valley if the playoffs started this week. Despite having not won a game, Pleasantville is actually the No. 15 seed in Group 2 right now (the top 16 qualify). But, despite the power rating, the Greyhounds cannot qualify if they are winless. Pleasantville would have to defeat Woodrow Wilson on Saturday or schedule a game for Oct. 29 and win that to have a chance to qualify.
Millville & Ocean City are the CAL leaders in scoring stats. The Thunderbolts have scored the most points this season (41.5 per game) and the Raiders have allowed the fewest (1.9). All of the CAL scoring stats, including individual leaders, are available HERE.
The Online 25 rankings list CAL teams as six of the top 11 in South Jersey, including No. 1 St. Augustine Prep. Check out the complete Online 25, including all public school teams who will compete in the South Jersey playoffs, HERE.
You can watch Saturday’s Ocean City-Oakcrest game HERE, along with Kingsway-Cherokee, Delsea-Mainland and Rancocas Valley-Eastern on Friday and Washington Township-St. Joseph on Saturday.