Lacey Township High School's Tom Kelly, looking to pass during a game against Barnegat last month, and his Lions teammates begin defense of their South Jersey Group III championship tonight with a first-round playoff game at top-seeded Timber Creek.

Anthony Smedile, Oct. 8, 2011

Lacey won the South Jersey Group III title last season.

But this is a far different Lions team. Most of last year's standouts graduated.

Still, Lacey had enough talent and tradition to make its seventh straight playoff appearance.

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The Lions - as they traditionally do - rely on the run with tailback Kyle Spatz.

Spatz has rushed for more than 1,000 yards this season and has nine touchdowns.

Timber Creek is the favorite to win the South Jersey Group III title. The Chargers are No. 2 in The Press Elite 11.

They have won all but one of their games by double digits.

Timber Creek features numerous college prospects, including Quanzell Lambert, who ranks as the No. 12 middle linebacker in the country.

Timber Creek also has some extra motivation.

The Chargers will be trying to avenge a 27-6 loss to Lacey Township in last year's South Jersey Group III quarterfinals.

Key players for Lacey Township: Kyle Spatz, RB, 203 carries for 1,216 yards and nine touchdowns; Tom Kelly (above), QB; Jordan Powell, TE/LB.

Key players for Timber Creek: Calvin Lowe, QB; Quanzell Lambert, LB; Khalil Pierce, RB; Kevin Potter, RB. Greg Wbb, DL; Dajuan Drennon, DL.

Keys to victory: Lacey needs to control the ball - easier said than done - and keep Timber Creek's potent offense on the sidelines as much as possible.

Michael McGarry

Game details

Who: Eighth-seeded Lacey Township (4-5) vs. top-seeded Timber Creek (8-0)

When/where: 7 p.m. today at Timber Creek

Admission: $3 for adults and $2 for students and senior citizens.

What's next: Winner advances to next weekend's semifinals against the winner of Saturday's quarterfinal between fifth-seeded Central Regional and fourth-seeded Woodrow Wilson.


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