Post date: Jan 26, 2015 2:07:18 AM

posted Jan 25, 2015 by Thomas Diaz

Marc Narducci, Inquirer Staff Writer

Posted: Saturday, October 18, 2014, 11:59 PM

A number of the Colonial Conference football teams have byes this weekend, and that's a good thing, because many of the 12 teams really need to catch their breath.

While there are debates each year about the best leagues in South Jersey (in relation to group size), during the first five weeks of the season, the Colonial has offered exciting games that could stand up against any other league's.

As in any league, the Colonial has had its share of blowouts, but when evenly matched teams collide, it has delivered sheer excitement.

Other leagues in South Jersey would be hard-pressed to match the excitement of these three games:

Haddonfield 28, West Deptford 25 in overtime.

Haddon Heights, 57, Haddon Township 56 (double overtime).

Audubon 33, Haddon Heights 27 (regulation).

Haddonfield and West Deptford are the top teams in the Colonial, and the outcome wasn't decided until Drew Tomlinson kicked a 32-yard field goal in overtime.

Haddonfield led, 22-7, at halftime, but West Deptford sent it to overtime on Luke Cornelius' 26-yard field goal with 40 seconds left in regulation. Unlike in the NFL or even college, a 26-yard field goal isn't a gimme in high school, adding to the excitement.

"Sometimes as coaches, you lose perspective what the game is all about from a spectator's standpoint," West Deptford coach Clyde Folsom said. "It was very entertaining, and the student bodies of both schools were able to have a good time watching such an exciting game."

And remember, Folsom's team didn't win. Yet he could appreciate the excitement created.

Folsom attended Haddon Heights' double-overtime win over Haddon Township.

"That was one of the best games I have ever seen," he said.

What is interesting is that Heights and Haddon Township won't be challenging for titles, but they put on a show that will be difficult to duplicate.

It also displayed the skills of an under-the-radar player such as Haddon Township receiver R.J. McCullough, who scored five touchdowns - four on receptions and one on a punt return.

Sometimes, a big game like that could give a player on a non-contending team some added publicity.

That could be the case with Audubon's 33-27 win last Saturday over Heights. Junior Brian Furlong threw for 329 yards and four touchdowns. At 6-foot-5 and 170 pounds, he has one of the quickest releases in South Jersey.

Both teams are now 2-3 entering their bye this week, but they put on the same type of entertainment provided by Group 2 heavyweights Haddonfield and West Deptford.

"It was wild to be part of something like this," Furlong said. "Games like this against a rival are so much fun."

That's the thing about the Colonial. So many of the schools are near each other, and natural rivalries develop. Audubon isn't much more than 10 minutes from places such as Haddon Township, Haddon Heights, Collingswood, and Haddonfield.

"A lot of these rivalries in the Colonial are so special," Heights coach Ralph Schiavo said.

And with more of the teams opening things up on offense, the conference has provided its share of thrills.

Folsom wanted to point out something else, that the Colonial is much more than just an entertaining conference.

"I think the Colonial doesn't always get the credit it deserves," he said. "It is a great conference."

That's for sure.

Haddonfield and West Deptford have won the last four South Jersey Group 2 titles, earning two apiece. Paulsboro and Woodbury are perennial contenders for Group 1 playoff berths. Sterling and Collingswood are resurgent programs.

Yes, the football is great, and in many instances, the entertainment value has been off the charts.