South Jersey Football Powers to play at 2024 Battle at the Beach
The Mainland Mustangs football team will be honored on Saturday afternoon at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City.
The team went 14-0 and won the NJSIAA Group IV state title, having a historic season, beating Ramapo 56-0 at Rutgers to become crowned New Jersey State champions.
Now they know who they will have to prepare for when they kick off the 2024 season.
The Mustangs will open at the Battle at the Beach against Camden High, who finished the season at 10-3, with a Group III NJSIAA Semifinal loss to Delsea.
The Battle at the Beach is entering its fourth season and has become a signature event to kick off the South Jersey football season.
Mainland will have a different look next season but does return plenty of talent including quarterback John Franchini, running back Rocco DeBiaso, Jake Blum, Andrew Gillman, Brady Kallen, Chase Hoag, Tony DeSalle, and Dan DeFeo.
Another local game was added on Friday with Group IV power Millville facing off with another local power, Holy Spirit.
Both teams had solid 2023, but return plenty of talent and should be ever better in 2024.
Millville, who went 10-2 in 2023, returns Lotzeir Brooks, who had 1,295 receiving yards and 22 tocuhdowns. He is one of the most recruited players in the state.
Other returners include: Reginald Holey, Demere White, Jamal Wallace, Aiden Dawkins, Jayden Jones, Xavier McBride, and Joseph Zamot
As for Holy Spirit, a young team that went 9-2 in 2023 will now have a more veteran look with quarterback Ty Costabile returning after a season where he threw for 1,609 yards and 21 touchdowns.
Running back Emir Hicks is back as are wide receiver Ryan Mallen and tight end Matt Abbott. On defense, Nick Medina Taylor Cartwright, Tommy Innocente, Ubrig Kurtz, and Colt Calhoun all return for a team that advanced to the semifinal round against Red Bank Catholic in the Non-Public Group B playoffs.
Another game that has some local flavor was added about a month ago, featuring Willingboro, who went 10-3 in 2023, facing the Oakcrest Falcons.
Oakcrest went 5-5 in 2023 with running back Jaleel Williams, and wide receivers Jaden Harvey and Zicri Forest both back. Donovan Linthicum, Sean Torres, and Aidan Oldfield are key players on defense returning for the Falcons.
Willingboro returns plenty of key talent on offense with quarterback Lamar Best, who passed for 2,607 and 35 touchdowns, adding 845 yards on the ground and 17 scores. His favorite target is also back, Terrance Knighton, who had 900 yards and 10 touchdowns.