South Jersey Group V football final preview: Southern Regional vs. Williamstown

Southern Regional High School coach Chuck Donohue walks the sideline during a regular-season game against Toms River East in Stafford Township last month. The Rams bring a 9-2 record into tonight’s playoff game.

Staff photo by Edward Lea

Either the Southern Regional or Williamstown high school football teams will make history Friday night.

One will win the first South Jersey football championship in school history. The two will meet at 7 o'clock for the Group V crown at Rowan University in Glassboro.

Williamstown has never been to a South Jersey football final. Southern lost 21-14 to Mainland Regional in the 2008 S.J. Group IV title game.

Latest Video

Southern Regional, which is ranked No. 7 in The Press Elite 11, won two playoff thrillers to reach the final. The Rams blocked an extra point to beat third-seeded Washington Township 33-32 in the quarterfinals. Southern then scored with 21.4 seconds on quarterback Dan Higgins' 3-yard pass to running back Abe Gonzalez to beat second-seeded Eastern 30-27.

Meanwhile, Williamstown, No. 1 in The Press Elite 11, dominated Millville 41-6 in the quarterfinals and beat Atlantic City 20-12 in the semifinals.

Key players for Southern: Dan Higgins, QB, 99-of-178 for 1,660 yards and 18 touchdowns; Abe Gonzalez, RB, 246 carries for 1,291 yards and 17 touchdowns; Mike Gesicki, WR/DB, 43 catches for 832 yards and eight touchdowns; Nick Hem, WR, 30 catches or 431 yards; Ryan Boyle, OL/DL, 50 tackles; Nick Munafo, LB, 73 tackles and four sacks; Luke Sheehan, DB, six interceptions.

Key players for Williamstown: Doug Banks, QB, 41-of-66 for 719 yards and eight touchdowns; Marquis Little, RB, 106 carries for 974 yards and 14 touchdowns; John Chamberlain, RB, 212 carries for 1,128 yards and 24 touchdowns; Derek Lauria, LB, 114 tackles; Julian Taylor, DE, 12 sacks; Kali Boyce, DB/RB, five interceptions.

Keys to victory: Southern must be able to run the ball. If the Rams can establish their running game, it would open things up down field for Higgins, Gesicki and Hem. The Southern defense must stop Williamstown's running game. The Braves controlled the game against Atlantic City with several long drives.


Stay informed! Sign up to receive top headlines delivered to your inbox each morning.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.