The West Deptford High School football team took the first step in defending its Group 2 title Friday night, defeating Sterling, 31-7, in the first round of the NJSIAA playoffs.
It was once again the running game that propelled the Eagles, with Gerald Owens and Connor Smith combining for 250 yards on the ground. Sterling was able to hang with West Deptford early on, limiting the Eagles to a 26-yard field goal by Luke Cornelius in the first quarter and a 9-yard touchdown run by Devin Bates in the second quarter.
The Eagles were able to find separation in the third quarter as Smith (7 yards) and Owens (1 yard) scored touchdowns to push the advantage to 24-0. West Deptford’s final score came in the fourth when Owens broke free for a 36-yard touchdown run.
West Deptford will face the winner of Saturday’s showdown between No. 4 Haddon Heights and No. 5 Woodstown in two weeks.
If the Garnets win their quarterfinal matchup, it would set up a rematch of the Eagles’ closest game of the season. The two teams went toe-to-toe on Sept. 22, with the Eagles pulling out a 36-28 victory.
Before the Eagles can turn their attention back to the playoffs, they must prepare for Friday’s Thanksgiving Week showdown with Paulsboro. The game is at West Deptford at 7 p.m.