Making the Playoff Push [PODCAST]
After what seemed like an eternity's worth of devastating weather conditions in only a few weeks, sports fans in South Jersey can now turn their focus toward the home stretch of the fall high school sports season.
While Hurricane Sandy may have pushed back playoff tournaments and other pivotal games, the recent Nor'easter wasn't enough to ruin the latest high school football action.
One team that played right through the blustery winter weather: the Millville Thunderbolts. It was only fitting that their 2012 rollercoaster season, filled with both highs and lows, came down to a home game in the snow with the postseason on the line.
Millville head football coach Jason Durham joined us on the South Jersey Sports Report, fresh off his team's narrow 20-14 win, in what many described as the "Nor'easter Bowl". Coach Durham offers thoughts on his team's first home victory of the season, why they've had more success on the road and what's next after clinching a spot in the Group V State Playoffs.
He also breaks down one of Millville's newest record-holders, the two biggest season-defining moments of 2012, and why his players are now rallying behind the mantra, "unfinished business".
A team that's had no trouble winning at home or on the road is Cedar Creek. The top team in the C.A.L. National Conference has gone through all eight opponents into November, and now has wrapped up home-field advantage through at least the first two rounds of the state playoffs.
Cedar Creek head coach Tim Watson spoke with us about how important staying at home will be for the Pirates later this month. He also takes us through the progression of one of his top offensive players, and explains why his team is "leaps-and-bounds" better than they were when the season began.
From a team that's 8-0 to a local quarterback that hasn't lost in 25 starts, Anthony Giagunto and St. Joe's have beaten down the American Conference's best in 2012. The Wildcats have already clinched the top seed in the state playoffs, after remaining atop the South Jersey power rankings all season.
We asked Anthony how his team continues to find ways to win late in games and why the team's veteran presence mean they'll be ready for another postseason. He also reveals what went into his decision to attend St. Joe's, and the most memorable moment from his high school career.
Turning from the gridiron to the pitch, one local high school team refused to be slowed down by the weather, earning their first ever trip to the postseason this week. The Egg Harbor Township girls soccer team made the most of the opportunity, grinding out a last minute shutout victory over Millville.
Lady Eagles head soccer coach Christian Wiech joined us on the South Jersey Sports Report to break down the team's unprecedented playoff win, and looks ahead to what's shaping up to be their most difficult challenge in top-ranked Eastern High School.
While hurricanes and nor'easters pose serious threats to outdoor sports venues, it's unlikely they'll have the same effects on an indoor pool. One of South Jersey's most talented athletes is gearing up for her final season in the water before heading south to swim at the next level.
Atlantic City High School phenom, and soon-to-be Tennessee Volunteer, Colleen Callahan will sign her letter of intent next week. We asked what went into her decision to join one of the SEC's best programs, and how last summer's stellar performance at the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials in Nebraska has made her one of the best swimmers in the nation.
And New Jersey's premier-college football team was flying high over some of the Big East's best, only to have their BCS bubble popped by unranked Kent State during homecoming weekend. With a bye week shortly after, it's a loss that Rutgers has lived with for nearly two weeks.
Rutgers beat reporter Sam Hellman has more on how the clock struck midnight for New Jersey's 'Cinderella', and what the Scarlet Knights can do against Army to avenge their only loss in 2012. He also breaks down some of the best 'up-and-coming' football talent in South Jersey, and which high school players have the chance to make names for themselves in the next few years.
Listen to this week's show:
Jason Durham, Millville Thunderbolts head football coach
Anthony Giagunto, St. Joe's senior quarterback
Christian Wiech, EHT Eagles girls soccer coach
Colleen Callahan, Atlantic City Vikings swimmer
Sam Hellman, FOX Sports recruiting analyst
Tim Watson, Cedar Creek Pirates head football coach
We’d also like to congratulate the South Jersey Athlete of the Week:
Football, Cedar Creek
The speedster helped the Pirates lock up home-field advantage through the first two rounds of the South Jersey Group II playoffs with four touchdowns in a 55-6 victory over Lower Cape May. Melton rushed for three scores and caught the other touchdown.
It’s all right here, on The South Jersey Sports Report. Listen every Saturday, 9-11 a.m. on 97.3 ESPN-FM or 973espn.com
Follow Tyler Donohue on Twitter @SouthJerzSports.