It's not an outlandish statement to say that no one predicted these two teams would meet for a berth in the South Jersey Group IV final when the season started.

Both Atlantic City and Oakcrest had new coaches.

Atlantic City finished 1-9 last season.

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Oakcrest hadn't had a winning season since 1998 and had never won a playoff game.

The unexpected success of Atlantic City and Oakcrest has been one of the season's biggest stories.

Oakcrest has won six straight under coach Chuck Smith. The Falcons' 38-13 win over second-seeded Williamstown was one of the biggest upsets of last weekend's first round. Falcons running back Joe Sprigg scored three touchdowns.

Atlantic City is No. 10 in The Press Elite 11. The Vikings ended a two-game losing streak with a 32-24 win over sixth-seeded Millville last Friday. Vikings quarterback Jamal Anderson threw three touchdown passes.

Playoff histories: This is Oakcrest's third playoff appearance and its first since 1986. The Falcons are 1-2 in the postseason. Atlantic City is 4-4 in six playoff appearances. The Vikings' win over Millville last Friday was their first playoff victory since they won the 1999 South Jersey Group IV title.

Key players for Oakcrest: Joe Sprigg, RB, 76 carries for 496 yards and eight touchdowns; Quaashie Jetter, QB, 46-of-107 for 527 yards; Brandon Bell, RB/LB, 82 carries for 513 yards; Dante Smith, OL/DL; Billy Fursin, LB; Ismail Showell, LB.

Key players for Atlantic City: Jamal Anderson, QB, 71-of-174 for 1,183 yards and 10 touchdowns; Radi Tolbert, RB, 76 carries for 509 yards; Ismail Naji, WR/DE, 27 catches or 458 yards and four touchdowns; Ben Allen, LB/TE.

Keys to victory: These teams scrimmaged in the preseason. Both have excellent speed. This game should be decided by big plays and mistakes. The team that makes the most big plays and the fewest turnovers should emerge with the win.

Michael McGarry

Who: Seventh-seeded Oakcrest (7-2) vs. third-seeded Atlantic City (7-2)

What: South Jersey Group IV semifinal

When/where: 7 p.m. today at Atlantic City

Radio: 97.3 FM

What's next: Winner advances to the state final the weekend of Dec. 3-5 against the winner of tonight's other semifinal between fourth-seeded Egg Harbor Township (6-3) and top-seeded Cherokee (9-0).


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