• Dan Russoman

Hammonton cruises in postseason opener


THG/Dan Russoman. To purchase photos in The Gazette, call (609) 704-1940. Josh Camargo (7) breaks free for a 37-yard touchdown run in Hammonton’s 48-6 South Jersey Group 4 playoff victory against Hightstown last week.

HAMMONTON—Hammonton High School’s football team looked every bit the top seed in the South Jersey Group 4 playoffs last week, dominating its quarterfinal game against Hightstown from start to finish in a 48-6 victory.


The Blue Devils scored on all six of their first half possessions, building a 41-0 lead at the break.


“I thought our execution was well tonight. The kids were hungry. I could see it before the game, they had that little twinkle in their eye in the locker room and they came out, even in warm-ups, I just had that feeling. They knew what was at stake and I’m happy for the seniors, especially, because now we get to play another week with those guys,” Hammonton coach Jim Raso said.


Kenny Smith led a strong Hammonton ground game, rushing for 172 yards on only 12 carries and scoring twice.


“We knew what we had to do, jump on them from the start and never let up,” Smith said.

Smith carried the ball three times for 50 yards on Hammonton’s first drive of the game, capped by Lucas Goehringer’s 3-yard touchdown run.


After a short Hightstown punt, Hammonton needed only two plays to score again, as Smith found the end zone on a 15-yard scamper.


Dylan Testa recovered a fumble on the Rams next drive, and Hammonton wasted little time scoring again, this time driving 93 yards, mixing runs from Smith, Goehringer and Justin Doughty. Smith’s 2-yard run put Hammonton ahead 21-0 with 2:18 left in the first quarter.


Early in the second quarter, Goehringer added his second score of the night, a 4-yard touchdown run, and midway through the period, Billy Way connected with NaKeem Powell on a 33-yard touchdown pass for a 34-0 lead.


Smith intercepted a pass on Hightstown’s next possession and that play set up Josh Camargo’s 37-yard touchdown run.


Leading 41-0 to start the second half, a running clock helped keep the score from getting out of control as the Rams had no answer for Hammonton’s strong ground game.


Hammonton’s defense turned in a strong effort, forcing two turnovers while limiting Hightstown’s ability to throw the football well.


“We knew they’d try to throw and we were ready for it. This was a big win for us. Now we have to keep it going,” Deandre Clemons said.


Late in the third quarter, freshman Julius Witcher scored Hammonton’s final touchdown, a 3-yard run.


Hightstown managed a late score, as Devron Lewis caught a short pass from Matt Schamper and raced through Hammonton’s backup defense for a 68-yard touchdown.


Raso said Hammonton was focused on starting the game well, something his team accomplished.


“They had to get on the bus, take the ride down. I know we were kind of scrambling around a little bit just going down to Ocean City, so for them to come down from where they were, they got here a little late and I said, ‘Look, you got one choice right now, let’s jump on them early and see how they react.’ And that’s exactly what the kids did,” Raso said.

He also praised the offensive line.


“The o-line did a great job, and I thought we were growing as a group. They’ve finally solidified themselves and we have a good rotation going to kind of keep them all fresh and they really got off the ball tonight,” Raso said.


Hammonton played like a top seed, but the Blue Devils are well aware that this week’s semifinal game against Shawnee won’t be as easy as the win against Hightstown.


“We’ve been the one seed before and lost, across the board there’s been one seeds that lost, so you can’t take anything for granted just because you’re a one seed. At this point, only a select few are playing and anything can happen. We have a lot of respect for their program[Shawnee], there’s a lot of history between the two programs and we’ll have our work cut out for us. We’ll give it everything we’ve got and see where the chips fall,” Raso said.


Hammonton hosts Shawnee on November 4 at 6 p.m.


The winner of this week’s game will take on either Jackson Memorial of Millville for the South Jersey title.