• Dan Russoman

Local players recognized by WJFL


St. Joseph defensive lineman P.J. Williams (52) was named as a first-team All-Star for the WJFL Continental Division last week. (THG/Dan Russoman.To purchase photos in The Gazette, call (609) 704-1940.)

HAMMONTON—The West Jersey Football League (WJFL) announced its All-Division teams last week, and several local players were recognized for their outstanding play during the 2021 season.


Six Hammonton High School players earned honors, as did 13 members of St. Joseph Academy’s football team.


First team Royal Division selections from Hammonton included A.J. Ryker, Luis Rodriguez, Austin Hudak and Jaron Hill. Kenny Smith and Elijah Church earned second-team honors.


For St. Joseph, Ja’son Prevard, Cohl Mercado, Jahmeer Cartagena, Bryan Butkus, Myles Solomon, P.J. Williams, Tallen Murray and Demarion McCoy earned first team nods, while Kevin Mayfield, Tyler Habersham, Jahqir Haley and Trevin DelGozzo were named to the second team. Erik Rose earned an honorable mention for the Wildcats.


Ryker overcame a broken leg midway through the season and finished as Hammonton’s leading rusher with 436 yards. The senior also caught eight passes for 97 yards and scored a team-high six touchdowns.


Rodriguez, a three-year starter at tackle, provided experience to a young Blue Devils offensive line, and paved the way for the team’s strong ground attack.


Defensively, Hudak, a linebacker, was one of the WJFL’s leading tacklers, while Hill intercepted five passes.


Smith, a freshman, was selected to the second team as a wide receiver despite spending most of his time in Hammonton’s backfield. He caught a team-high 14 passes for 190 yards, while adding 418 rushing yards. Church excelled on the defensive line for the Blue Devils.


Among St. Joseph’s four first team selections on offense was Prevard, who set several school passing records in 2021. The senior quarterback threw for a school-record 1,527 yards and 17 touchdowns, adding 207 rushing yards.


Mercado, who played running back and wide receiver, was one of the league’s most versatile players, rushing for 753 yards while catching 27 passes for 543 yards. He scored 15 touchdowns and had a team-high 94 points last season.


Cartagena made the most of his lone season as a Wildcat, catching 31 passes for a team-record 904 yards, adding 15 touchdowns.


Butkus, a three-year starter on the offensive line, anchored the Wildcats up front from his center position, providing solid run blocking and pass protection.


Defensively, first team selection Solomon made 50 tackles, including 10 for a loss, and added half a sack in a strong season. Williams was among the Wildcats leading tacklers with 61, including 13 behind the line of scrimmage and had two sacks.


Murray, a senior linebacker, led St. Joseph with 106 tackles, 25 for loss, and had a team-leading six sacks.


McCoy, chosen as a linebacker, recorded four sacks and had 15 tackles for loss among his 43 stops last season.


Haley was a second-team choice as a defensive back following a season where he made 40 tackles and intercepted three passes.


DelGozzo was one of the league’s top kickers and punters, and was chosen for his punting skills. He averaged 26.4 yards on 34 punts last year, placing six inside the opponents’ 20-yard line.


Second-team selections on offense included Mayfield, who ran for a team-high 894 yards while scoring 13 times. Habersham, an imposing tackle, earned second-team honors for his strong run blocking skills.


Rose, a senior two-way tackle, played well on both sides of the ball for the Wildcats, earning an honorable mention.