Aquinas and Union Heading to Ocean City

Trojans and Farmers to Compete in 2023 Battle at the Beach

OCEAN CITY, NJ – On Friday, the action begins in the 2023 Battle at the Beach on the campus of Ocean City High School.  For the third straight year, at least one school from the Big Central Conference will be competing.  St. Thomas Aquinas and Union are heading to Ocean City to play in two of Saturday’s games at iconic Carey Field.

Union will be playing in the West Jersey Football League showcase for the second time in three years.  Two years ago, the Farmers took on South Jersey Group 4 power, Millville in what ended up being a classic.  Both teams went back and forth for four quarters before the Lightning Bolts came away with the wild, 31-28 victory.  It would be Union’s only loss on the field in 2021.

Meanwhile, Aquinas is competing in the Battle at the Beach for the first time ever.  The Trojans are coming off a second straight 9-win season.  STA finished 9-2 overall after going 9-1 during the 2021 campaign.  Both defeats came at the hands of a school from the West Jersey Football League:  Timber Creek (26-21) at Aquinas on opening weekend and Holy Spirit of Absecon (50-21) in the opening round of the NJSIAA Non-Public Group B playoffs.

The Trojans will open things up for the Big Central on Saturday with a 12:15 PM contest versus Paul VI of Haddonfield.  Then the Farmers will follow with a 3:00 PM matchup against Rancocas Valley of Mount Holly in Burlington County.  The Eagles of Paul VI finished 7-3 last year and lost to St. Joseph’s-Montvale in the opening round of the NJSIAA Non-Public Group A playoffs.

Meanwhile, the Red Devils ended up 6-4 a year ago in what was a roller coaster ride of a season.  Rancocas Valley ended up losing to Atlantic City (32-28) in the opening round of the Central Jersey Group 5 state playoffs.  The Red Devils defeated Paterson Eastside (21-20) in a Week Two contest.

The Battle at the Beach has become one of the biggest early season showcases in New Jersey High School football putting the top teams from the WJFL against not only the best teams in New Jersey but also the Mid-Atlantic region.  ESPN will be down at Carey Field this year to cover some of the action to cover the clash between IMG Academy of Florida and St. Joseph’s Prep of Pennsylvania.

Below is a schedule of all of the games in this year’s Battle at the Beach (Big Central games in bold):

Friday, August 25th

  • Mainland Regional vs. Washington Township, 10:00 AM
  • Hammonton vs. St. John Vianney, 1:00 PM
  • Millville vs. Toms River North, 4:00 PM
  • Ocean City vs. Pleasantville, 7:00 PM

Saturday, August 26th

  • West Deptford vs. Hightstown, 9:30 AM
  • Paul VI vs. St. Thomas Aquinas, 12:15 PM
  • Rancocas Valley vs. Union, 3:00 PM
  • IMG Academy of Florida vs. St. Joseph’s Prep of PA, 7:00 PM

Sunday, August 27th

  • Collingswood vs. Maple Shade, 10:00 AM
  • Cedar Creek vs. Matawan, 1:00 PM
  • Holy Spirit vs. Conwell Egan (PA), 4:00 PM
  • Timber Creek vs. Highland Regional, 7:00 PM

Two seasons ago, four schools from the Big Central Conference competed (Bernards, Scotch Plains-Fanwood, Union, and Woodbridge).  The BCC went 1-3 with Woodbridge defeating Winslow Township (26-14) to salvage a victory.  Last year, Edison was the lone BCC representative but didn’t disappoint with a come-from-behind victory over Cedar Creek (42-21).  

For more information on the Battle at the Beach including the purchase of tickets for each of the day’s games, check out this article from Mike McGarry for the Press of Atlantic City.