GLOUCESTER TWP. – There’s electricity around the Timber Creek High School football team these days.
And it’s a sleek, quick and physical defensive line that gave the Chargers a big boost of energy.
What the defensive line lacks in size, the front line makes up for with a unique blend of speed and toughness.
“Fast and physical, that’s what my coach (defensive coordinator JT Thompson) tells us and that’s how we play,” said junior defensive end Brahim Wynn.
The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Wynn displayed those traits when he delivered one of the key plays in Friday’s 28-15 win over Rancocas Valley in an undefeated battle. Wynn chased the RV quarterback, not only positioning himself for his fourth sack of the season, but releasing the ball before Dallas linebacker Amir Reason recovered.
Timber Creek’s defensive line has energized the Chargers, who are off to a 4-0 start for the first time in five seasons and are looking to erase the memory of two straight lost seasons to begin head coach Brian Wright’s tenure in the township of Gloucester.
“I’m going to switch with my defensive line any day of the week against any offensive line, except maybe my own offensive line,” Wright said. “They bought what Coach Thompson taught and they’re feeding on it.”
Timber Creek’s defensive line helped flesh out opponents’ running offense, including three goal-line positions in the win over Willingboro last week.
“Willingboro tried (running on us), Camden Catholic tried it, St. Thomas (Aquinas) tried it, it doesn’t work,” Wright said.
And according to the head coach, the thing that really shook the defense: “I think we’re just scratching the surface,” Wright said. “We probably have the smallest inside linebackers in South Jersey, but you can’t measure the heart.”
Timber Creek was without fellow starting defensive end Darien Cade, who was injured in practice last week. Wright thinks he’ll be back next week.
With Cade out, junior Zyir Wadley-McPherson stepped in for his first college snaps, playing alongside tackles – juniors Ashan Deaver (5-10, 255) and Mha’Ki Cunningham (6-2, 265). The Chargers defense gave up just one touchdown in the first half of its first four games.
“Getting better every day,” Deaver said. “We put the work, these 7 a.m. practices on the track, that’s where that work shows up.”
Three things we learned
∎ Timber Creek has certainly found its footing this season. After two seasons of three wins in each of Wright’s first two seasons with the programs, the program looks re-energized.
“They fought for each other,” Wright said. “It hasn’t been easy in recent years, but I think we’re here because of the battles we’ve been through in recent years.
“This is the most fun coaching I’ve had in 23 years.”
Wright will lead the Chargers to Cherry Hill West next week. The head coach led the Lions to a 38-41 mark in his eight years at the helm, including the program’s only two playoff appearances (2013 and 2016).
∎ Teams may wish to reconsider passing the ball to Zyheem Coleman-Frazier. The eldest is a lightning bolt with football in his hands. He returned a punt 65 yards for a scored, his second punt return for a score in four games.
∎ Rancocas Valley, which had scored 21 points in each of its first three games, struggled to find consistency moving the ball against Timber Creek. The Red Devils will need to regain that momentum quickly with Burlington Township and Hammonton next. The team will need a win over Hammonton to get back into the division title chase.
Wood Creek: Coleman-Frazier scored a pair of touchdowns in the first half, bringing his team-leading total to six.
Rancocas Valley: Brody Deiter. The second made contributions from both sides of the ball. He caught a pass in the first half and recovered a pass from his brother, Jase, for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
They said it
Timber Creek practices on a field at the back of campus, or as Wright likes to describe it: “The eighth hole of (the now closed) Highway Golf Course.”
Tom McGurk is a regional sports editor for the Courier-Post, the Daily Journal and the Burlington County Times, covering South Jersey sports for over 30 years. If you have a sports story to tell, contact him at (856) 486-2420 or by email [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @McGurkSports. Help support local journalism with a digital subscription.