2023 South Jersey Group 3 Football Playoffs Preview
SOUTH JERSEY GROUP 3
Last year’s champion: Delsea
(8) Burlington Township at (1) Delsea
(5) Somerville at (4) Manasquan
(6) Allentown at (3) Seneca
(7) Highland at (2) Camden Eastside
The Favorite: Delsea (7-1)
The Crusaders are the defending champion and the heavy favorite to win the program’s 16th sectional championship. Delsea’s lone loss came to Central Jersey Group 4 top seed and favorite Winslow Township (28-13). The Crusaders have victories over playoff teams Ocean City (35-14), Kingsway (41-13), Burlington Township (25-13), Cedar Creek (50-14), and Hammonton (41-6). Delsea’s traditional run-heavy, Wing-T offense has churned out 2,459 yards rushing and 39 touchdowns, led by junior running back Dan Russo and his 1,014 yards and 16 touchdowns. Senior quarterback Zach Maxwell has rushed for 411 yards and six touchdowns and thrown for 283 yards and five touchdowns. Senior running back Wayne Adair has 555 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns. Beating Delsea starts and ends with slowing down its ground game, which is easier said than done.
Contender: Camden Eastside (5-3)
Camden Eastside is the main contender simply for the fact the Tigers won’t have to face Delsea until the final. The school formerly known as Woodrow Wilson High School has enjoyed plenty of championship success in recent seasons and four of their five wins have come against playoff teams (6-0 over Irvington, 14-6 over Pennsauken, 26-8 over Cedar Creek, 12-0 over Burlington Township).
Dark Horses: Seneca (7-1), Somerville (5-4)
Seneca handed Cinnaminson its only loss (13-9), beat a playoff-bound Moorestown team 28-27 in overtime, and its only loss is to Paul VI, 28-27. Freshman quarterback Anthony Tirico has thrown for 1,120 yards and 11 touchdowns and senior running back Zac Fearon has rushed for 917 yards and 19 touchdowns.
Somerville played a challenging schedule that included games vs. Group 5 schools Old Bridge, Union, Elizabeth, Westfield, Hillsborough, and South Brunswick, plus a game vs. undefeated Group 4 Montgomery. They also own a 28-20 win over a 6-2 St. Joseph (Metuchen) team. Somerville has an explosive passing offense led by junior quarterback Brandon Pacheco, who has thrown for 1,678 yards and 15 touchdowns with just two interceptions. Four receivers have 20 or more receptions.
Shore Shots: Manasquan (4-3)
Manasquan’s three losses have come to teams with a combined 24-1 record and the Warriors are coming in hot off two straight shutouts. A home game vs. Somerville is winnable but a semifinal road game with Delsea would be a tall order. Of course, if Delsea somehow gets eliminated before the title game the bracket will be blown wide open.
Non-Shore Player to Watch: Dan Russo, Jr., RB/LB, Delsea
Russo is a two-way standout for the Crusaders with 1,014 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns plus 61.5 tackles, seven tackles for loss, and a fumble recovery on defense.
Badders’ pick: Delsea
Stump’s pick: Delsea