The Egg Harbor Township and Hammonton high school football teams will both play for South Jersey titles this weekend.
Hammonton (10-1) hosts Timber Creek (9-2) at 7 p.m. Friday for the Group III title. EHT (11-0) travels to Cherokee (10-1) for the Group IV championship on Saturday at 1 p.m. Here's a look at key matchups that will determine the outcome of the games.
Timber Creek wide receiver Damiere Byrd vs. the Hammonton defensive backs
The speedy Byrd is a Division I college prospect. Byrd runs the 40-yard dash in 4.3 seconds. Duke, Maryland, Rutgers and South Carolina have offered the junior scholarships. He showed his ability to score from anywhere on the field with a 50-yard touchdown run in Timber Creek's 13-2 semifinal win over Lacey Township. Byrd has more than 1,300 yards of offense between rushing and receiving.
The Hammonton secondary, led by Nick Crescenzo and Julio Rodriguez, must keep Byrd in check, and when he does catch the ball, make sure they tackle him.
Cherokee running game vs. the EHT defense
Cherokee beat the Eagles 34-18 in last season's South Jersey Group IV quarterfinals. EHT could not stop the run. Cherokee rushed for 340 yards. Chiefs running back Sean Farrell is one of the best in southern New Jersey with 903 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns. EHT can't allow Cherokee to control the ball. Eagles linebackers Zach Agostino (40, above), Dominic Moody and Shane Delaney must shed blockers and get to the Cherokee ball carriers as quickly as possible.
Coming Thursday: Egg Harbor Township's speed vs. Cherokee's power and Hammonton's running game vs. the Timber Creek defense.