High School Football Preview

by Matt Consentino | Aug 28, 2017
High School Football Preview


PLAYERS TO WATCH: A solid Bishop Eustace defense brings back three all-conference first-team selections along with several other contributors and should lead the way this fall. Senior defensive lineman Andrew Klitchko had 78 tackles and five sacks and received first-team recognition along with senior defensive back Blake Hansen (62 tackles, three forced fumbles) and senior linebacker Stephen Schoenborn (77 tackles). Senior linebacker Tim Spellman had 64 tackles and two sacks and made the second team. Other key players on defense include senior lineman Brendan Morton, senior linebackers Nick Martorell, Anthony DelMastro and Brian Dugan and senior defensive back Pat Dunleavy. Offensively, Hansen saw time at quarterback and receiver and figures to take over as the full-time QB. Senior running back Andrew Ciampi and Schoenborn will power the running game and Klitchko returns on the offensive line. Junior Craig Yates should also get some carries and the receiving corps includes seniors Nick Dziuba and Paul Biernacki. Senior Joe Wells will contribute at tight end and also made the all-conference first team at punter.

OUTLOOK: The Crusaders went 2-8 last season but three of the losses were by less than a touchdown. If they can find a way to pull out the close games they can contend for a winning record this fall. They will do so under a new head coach, as Rob Cormier is not returning after 10 seasons at the helm. AJ Johnson was named the new coach in late July.


PLAYERS TO WATCH: Senior running back/linebacker Marcus Hillman is a talented player on both sides of the ball and is one of the key returners for Camden Catholic. Last year he had 65 tackles and six sacks on defense to earn all-conference first-team honors. He also rushed for 740 yards on 90 carries—an 8.2 average—and scored seven touchdowns. Hillman should become the featured back after the graduation of all-South Jersey first-teamer Nazir Streater. Another focal point on offense is junior quarterback Rob McCoy Jr., who earned the starting job as a sophomore and threw 13 TD passes on his way to all-conference second-team honors. Junior Dante Kiett (23 receptions, two TDs) and senior Andre Tucker (14 receptions) are top targets in the passing game. Senior Gage Panno, junior Tyler Tompkins and sophomore Mekhi Bryant are experienced players on the offensive line and sophomore Tirek Austin-Cave could also get some carries behind them. Austin-Cave has already proven himself as a playmaker, as he started as a freshman at middle linebacker and finished with 66 tackles, two sacks and three interceptions. Juniors Jeremy Nutt and Divine Young are returners on the defensive line and junior Tyrese Ware is an important player in the secondary.

OUTLOOK: The Irish went 9-1 and claimed a division championship for the second straight year, improving their record to 26-4 in three seasons under head coach Nick Strom. This has the makings for another special season at Camden Catholic.


PLAYERS TO WATCH: Cherokee graduated a strong senior class that included star running back John Lovett—now at Baylor— and starting quarterback Jacob Bodine. New leaders will have to emerge, especially on offense. Senior Jack Walters will enter camp as the starting quarterback, and running backs expected to battle for carries are junior Kevin Linden and sophomores E.J. Bard and Jamar Dimanche. Junior Marcus Dawson and senior Tyler Ludwikowski will compete for the fullback job and veteran wide receivers are seniors Tymere Bennett, Ryan Burke and Nick Moffa, with sophomore Jackson McIntyre also in the mix. Senior Patrick McKenna, an all-conference first-teamer, leads an offensive line that also includes seniors Robert Livshits and Eric Smith. Defensively, seniors Andrew Cardinale and Ahmad Miller are back on the line. Walters is an experienced linebacker and Ludwikowski is a returning starter at safety. Ludwikowski also made the all-conference first team at punter.

OUTLOOK: The Chiefs went 6-4 overall and 4-1 in the WJFL American Division last season and lost in the first round of the South Jersey Group V playoffs to eventual champion Millville. They have some big holes to fill but expect to remain competitive.


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PLAYERS TO WATCH: Cherry Hill East has some promising young players returning from last year’s rebuilding team. That includes junior Mitch Donovan, who began the 2016 season as the starting quarterback, and junior twin brothers Nick and Dante Gazzola, who are important factors in the running game. Sophomore Mike Wheeler is also in the mix at quarterback and running back, while other running backs include junior James Roberts, sophomore Stanford Brown and sophomore fullback Sam Lees. Senior Thomas Tompkins, junior Isaac Jean-Baptiste and sophomore Colin Cunningham have experience at wide receiver. Junior Dominic Seta is a returning starter on the offensive line and juniors Nick Kokolis and Phil Drebick are key players up front as well. Sophomores Sean Coen and Antonio Valentine and junior Roberto Sul are also expected to have an impact on the offensive line. Kokolis and Drebick lead the way on the defensive line along with Valentine, Sul and Lees. The linebacking corps features the Gazzola twins, Roberts and Coen. Tompkins and Jean-Baptiste are veterans in a secondary that also includes junior Elijah Adkins, Cunningham, Wheeler and Brown. Senior kicker/punter Salmon Bayat also returns.

OUTLOOK: The 2016 season was a rough one for the Cougars, but they expect to make progress with a lot of key players back in the fold.


PLAYERS TO WATCH: Cherry Hill West graduated a special senior class that included standouts Harrison Hand and Lorenzo Hernandez. But there is still talent remaining, starting with junior quarterback Monte Williams, who earned the starting job as a sophomore. Williams threw for 1,323 yards and 14 touchdowns and made the all-conference second team. He will again hand the ball off to Nick DiVietro, a senior running back who averaged 6.2 yards per carry, ran for eight TDs and made the all-conference first team. Senior offensive lineman Chris Robertson made the all-conference second team and junior Naiem Simmons (16 receptions, two TDs) returns at wide receiver. DiVietro is also a returning starter at defensive back and junior Mike Alberto is a key defensive player at linebacker. Senior Ryan Mailahn will handle the kicking duties again after an all-conference second-team season.

OUTLOOK: The Lions had a memorable season in 2016, finishing 8-2 for their best record in almost 50 years. Look for them to follow it up with another solid campaign.


PLAYERS TO WATCH: Clearview suffered key losses to graduation, including quarterback Jarett Baker and running back Gyair Sharper, who both made the all-conference first team. But while many of last year’s skill-position players are gone, the good news is the return of a veteran offensive line that includes senior tackle Sami Iqbal, an all-conference first-teamer. Juniors Ryan Gies and Aidan Romano both started on the line as sophomores and made the all-conference second team, while senior Justin Mulholland is another starter up front. Sophomore Will Conway, a 6-foot-4, 275-pound tackle, could also be a standout on the line. Senior Bobby Blanchard backed up Baker in 2016 and will be in contention to take over as the starting QB, along with junior James Vargo. Junior Anthony Trazzera should compete for carries with a slew of other talented running backs, and Vargo will also be in the mix if he doesn’t win the quarterback job. Speedy sophomore Mike Ancona will see time at wide receiver, as will Blanchard if he is not playing QB. Defensively, the Pioneers graduated their top six tacklers. Senior Connor Weatherby, junior Justin Iaccio and Vargo are important pieces of the D at linebacker, while Romano, Iqbal and junior Sal Amato should contribute on the line. Rashaan Tompkins, a sophomore outside linebacker/defensive end, is expected to have an immediate impact on defense in his first varsity season. Senior cornerback Reuben Cumpio, an outstanding athlete, leads the secondary along with Trazzera. Ancona, a defensive back, and sophomore linebacker Nick Matalucci are promising newcomers on defense. Senior running back/linebacker Jackson Lewis and senior tight end/linebacker Vinnie Pharo are both working hard to come back from serious injuries and will also be contributors on both sides of the ball.

OUTLOOK: The Pioneers lost a thrilling first-round game to Shawnee in the South Jersey Group IV playoffs last year and finished with a 6-4 record, their first winning season since 2008. New head coach Steve Scanlon will look to keep the momentum going after replacing Mark Deal.


PLAYERS TO WATCH: Cheston Bulgin, a Division I recruit, leads a solid crop of returners on the Eastern defense after making the all-conference first team as a junior. The 6-foot-3, 285-pound defensive tackle had more than 50 tackles last season. Junior linebacker TJ Franden led the team in tackles and made the all-conference second team along with senior defensive back Ryan Jennings. Other contributors on defense are junior linebackers Manny Azuonwu and Umar Davis, senior safety Zakee Johnson and junior safety Dominic Harris. On offense, the Vikings have some young talent that earned varsity experience last year, including junior quarterback Chase Stafford. Azuonwu averaged 5.5 yards per carry and rushed for three TDs and Franden is another key player in the backfield. Senior Zahir Goyins and Jennings are returning wide receivers, and senior Zach Tallmadge is an experienced kicker/punter. 

OUTLOOK: The Vikings made strides last year, going 4-6 after two straight 1-9 seasons. John Doherty, who had a successful run as the head coach at Paul VI and served as Eastern’s defensive coordinator last year, hopes to keep the program moving in the right direction after replacing Dan Boguszewski as head coach.


PLAYERS TO WATCH: Although Gloucester Catholic graduated its starting quarterback, workhorse running back and top wide receiver, there is some promising talent ready to take over on offense. Sophomore Danny DeAngelis will look to earn the starting QB job, while sophomore running backs Dashaun Harris (three TDs) and Jason Everett gained experience last year and could be ready for bigger roles. Senior Matt Gray and junior Dameal Rudolph are top targets at wide receiver and senior Kyle Murphy anchors the offensive line after making the all-conference first team. Senior lineman TJ Logan (48 tackles, six sacks) and Gray, a safety, both made the all-conference first team and lead the defense. Murphy (three sacks) is an important player up front, senior Mike McAleer is a veteran linebacker and sophomore Da’Juan Vales is expected to start at safety. Other experienced defensive backs include Harris, Rudolph and senior Isiaiah Clas

OUTLOOK: The 2016 season was memorable for the Rams, who bounced back from consecutive winless campaigns with a 6-4 record capped by a Thanksgiving victory over rival Gloucester. They hope to remain competitive with a lot of new faces in the starting lineup. 


PLAYERS TO WATCH: Haddonfield has some big holes to fill, particularly at quarterback and linebacker after the graduation of Brendan Gilmartin, but is excited about the return of 21 letterwinners. Senior Jack Flanagan and junior Jay Foley are in contention to take over as the starting quarterback, and whoever wins the job will have a talented running back to lean on in senior Ben Klaus, who averaged more than 6 yards per carry and scored four touchdowns as a junior. Junior Chris Brown will also be a featured back and other running backs include senior Brian Jones and juniors Lance Forebaugh and Lewis Evans. Big things are expected from junior wide receivers Davis Smith and Luke Colehower, and other contributors at receiver are senior Seamus Glennon and junior Johnny Foley. Three starters are back on the offensive line—senior Will Murray will move from guard to center, while senior Mark Troiani returns at guard and junior Matt Pinsky returns at tackle. There is a lot of competition for the other two starting spots on the line, with seniors Jack Matty and Quinn Plunkett and juniors Vince Brady, Jack Brady and Jimmy Kane among those in the mix. Senior linebacker Will Ciemny led the team in tackles last season and made the all-conference first team, and junior defensive end Gabe Klaus will look to build on a season in which he recorded 5 ½ sacks. Ben Klaus and Jones also contribute at linebacker and senior Nick Patrizi will be a factor at outside linebacker or defensive end. The secondary includes Smith and Colehower at corner along with safeties Brown and Flanagan. Junior Henry Grozier is a solid kicker/punter who converted 29-of-31 PATs last year.

OUTLOOK: The Bulldawgs lost to Willingboro in the first round of the South Jersey Group II playoffs and finished with a 6-4 record in 2016. Despite some key losses, expect them to continue their winning tradition this fall.


PLAYERS TO WATCH: Kingsway was in rebuilding mode last year and had many first-time starters gain valuable varsity experience. That includes Joel Scerbo, an athletic and competitive senior who took over as the starting quarterback and got better and better as the season progressed. He finished with eight touchdown passes and two TD runs. Senior wide receiver Kevin Zehner caught six of Scerbo’s eight TD passes and finished with 28 receptions on his way to all-conference first-team honors. Senior Timarco Brown is a key returner at running back and other receivers are sophomore Alex Odomand and junior AJ Butler, who caught the winning touchdown pass in an overtime win over Washington Township. Senior Gavin Watson is an important returner on the offensive line and also shines on defense, as he made the all-conference first team. He is receiving serious college interest and has received several offers from FCS programs. Senior Colin Wexler returns at linebacker, while Scerbo was an all-conference first-teamer at defensive back and Zehner also returns in the secondary. Senior Sean Sandy is a three-year starter at kicker. 

OUTLOOK: The Dragons got off to a slow start in 2016 but won their final three games and finished with a 4-6 record. Expect the improvement to continue in their second season under head coach Mark Hendricks. 


PLAYERS TO WATCH: Senior quarterback Matt Lajoie shined in his first season as the starter and leads a talented crop of skill-position players on Lenape’s offense. Lajoie threw for 695 yards and seven touchdowns and added 738 yards and nine TDs on the ground to make the all-conference first team. He’ll hand the ball off to one of the best running backs in the area, senior Jojo Kellum, who was an all-conference first-teamer for the second year in a row after rushing for 1,008 yards and 10 TDs. Senior wide receiver Jake Topolski (four TD receptions) is yet another returner who made the all-conference first team, and seniors Mike Galaida and Uthman Bruce return at fullback and tight end, respectively. The offensive line graduated three terrific players but brings back seniors Aaron Acosta and Anthony Ruttler, an all-conference second-team selection. Acosta, a defensive end, and Galaida, a linebacker, are standouts on defense who made the all-conference first team. Senior defensive lineman Jared Davenport and senior linebacker Zach Cole were all-conference second-teamers. Bruce returns at defensive end, senior Thomas KaiKai is back at tackle and Topolski is a key player in the secondary. The Indians must replace all-South Jersey punter/kicker Ben Harris. 

OUTLOOK: The 2016 season was the best in school history for the Indians, who reached the sectional final for the first time and finished with an 11-1 record. Expect another successful campaign with Lajoie and Kellum leading the way. 


PLAYERS TO WATCH: Brian McMonagle earned the starting quarterback job as a sophomore and responded with a strong season, as he threw for more than 1,300 yards and 14 touchdowns to earn all-conference second-team honors. It will be interesting to see what he can do as a junior with a year of experience under his belt. McMonagle’s offensive weapons include senior running back J’Wan Steward, senior wide receiver Mitchell Lisa and junior wide receiver Nick Cartwright-Atkins. Junior Josh Pearcy should also see time at running back and senior Bobby Garrison is a returning starter on the offensive line. Other veterans up front include seniors Frankie Pryor and Jaxon Zaorski. Defensively, the key returners include junior linebacker Jack Ginley, Garrison on the D-line and Lisa and Steward in the secondary. Other contributors are junior linebackers Chase Mueller and Jalen Egan. Junior kicker/punter Josh Bearder, an all-conference second-teamer, returns as well.

OUTLOOK: The Quakers went 5-5 last fall—their best record since 2012—and qualified for the Central Jersey Group IV playoffs. They’ll look to keep progressing with McMonagle leading the way.


PLAYERS TO WATCH: Senior linebacker Demetrius Hudson led Paul VI in tackles and sacks as a junior and was rewarded with all-conference first-team recognition. He is a key returner on defense along with senior defensive end Eric Matos. Other contributors on D are sophomore tackle Isaiah Raikes and senior defensive backs Alan Tucker and Devon Rand. On the other side of the ball, senior John Donegan is back after starting at quarterback as a junior. Junior running back Brian Brown scored four touchdowns last year and will be an important part of the running game, along with seniors Jamir Garland and Johnny Intriago. The backfield also includes Raikes, a fullback. Senior Austin Rapp and junior Preston Verling are experienced offensive linemen. Henry Westerman, a junior, will again handle the kicking and punting duties. 

OUTLOOK: The 2016 season was a transitional one and the Eagles finished with a 3-7 record. They hope to show improvement this fall in their first full campaign under head coach Glenn Hutton.


PLAYERS TO WATCH: Seneca said goodbye to three-year starting quarterback JJ Scarpello, who graduated as the program’s all-time leader in passing yards and touchdowns. Senior Luke Schubert Brown and sophomore Malin Jazinski will be in contention to take over the starting job, with senior Kevin Gsell possibly in the mix as well. Whoever starts at QB will have a dynamic wide receiver to work with in senior Tommy Scarpello, who set a school record with 47 catches last year. Gsell, who added 38 receptions to earn all-conference second-team accolades, will also be a dangerous target if he doesn’t play quarterback. Senior running backs Drew Hastie and John Murphy will also be important parts of the offense. The offensive line also suffered a key loss with the graduation of Garrett Blesi, but experienced linemen are seniors Mike Maus and Joey Pepe. On defense, Murphy made the all-conference second team at linebacker. The secondary is strong with Gsell and seniors Steve Rodeshin and Ethan Bednar

OUTLOOK: The Golden Eagles went 3-7 against a tough schedule and lost in the first round of the South Jersey Group II playoffs. They hope to remain competitive with new leaders on both sides of the ball. 


PLAYERS TO WATCH: Although Shawnee graduated several emotional leaders, three key two-way players are back in the fold: seniors Colin Wetterau, Daevon Robinson and Ryan Parris. Wetterau seized the reins as the starting quarterback last year and threw seven touchdown passes while rushing for three scores. He also had 77 tackles at cornerback and made the all-conference first team. Robinson made the all-conference first team as a defensive end; he also had 30 receptions at wide receiver and carried the ball out of the backfield on offense. He received serious Division I recruiting interest and made a verbal commitment to North Carolina State in June. Parris ran for two touchdowns and should become the featured back on offense. Defensively, the linebacker made the all-conference first team after leading the team with 138 tackles and six sacks. Other returning starters on offense are senior wide receiver Jeremy Fisher, senior fullback Victor Otaviano, senior lineman Tommy Kane and junior lineman JC Dobis. Senior wide receivers Ethan Rieger and Jake Schillinger, junior tight end Joe Dalsey and junior lineman Patrick O’Hanlon add depth. The contributors on defense include senior linebacker John Dias, senior defensive end Dan Falzone and Dalsey at defensive end. Junior Jonathan Searcy will see time at linebacker and the secondary includes Fisher, Schillinger and junior Joey Moore. The Renegades also have two strong kickers: Dalsey, who led South Jersey with seven field goals, and senior Rich Demko, who converted all 31 of his PATs. Junior long snapper Andrew Ellis is another important piece of the special teams. 

OUTLOOK: The Renegades’ 8-3 season featured a thrilling playoff win over Clearview and a trip to the sectional semifinals. The program has been a major factor in the playoffs in recent years and has the potential to do it again. 


PLAYERS TO WATCH: St. Augustine underwent massive changes in the off-season, including the departure of several key players, such as starting quarterback Josh Zamot, who transferred to Holy Spirit. There will be an open competition in camp to determine the new QB. Standout offensive linemen Chris Mayo and Victor Mahar also transferred out of the program, along with star running back Kyle Dobbins, who will play his senior season at Timber Creek. The Temple recruit rushed for 1,282 yards and 17 touchdowns to earn all-South Jersey and all-conference first-team honors last year. The good news is the return of junior True Robinson, who averaged 7.7 yards per carry and scored six TDs as a sophomore and could be ready for a featured role. Seniors Xavier File, Shamere Collins and junior Jayle DeCoteau are the top receiving threats and the offensive line will look to rebuild. On defense, Collins highlights an experienced secondary that also includes File, senior Sean Mulhern and junior Sincere Rhea. Collins had 56 tackles and five interceptions to make the all-South Jersey and all-conference first teams. Senior lineman Garrett Dolan and linebackers Joe Bonczek and Robinson are other important returners on D. Senior Nate Fondacaro is back as the kicker/punter.

OUTLOOK: The Hermits went unbeaten against South Jersey competition for the second straight season in 2016 and finished with a 9-1 overall mark after falling to Bergen Catholic in the Non-Public Group IV playoffs. The program is in good hands with new head coach Pete Lancetta, who went 215-64-2 with four sectional titles in 26 seasons at Hammonton and has spent the last two years as an assistant at Rowan University. Lancetta replaces Mark Reardon, who stepped down in May following five successful seasons.


PLAYERS TO WATCH: Although Washington Township graduated three-year starting quarterback Mike Piperno, there are several talented offensive players who return, including all-conference second-teamers Colin Meintel, Kazmere Sturgis and Akennis Yates, all seniors. Meintel, a running back, rushed for more than 800 yards and nine touchdowns and also had four TD receptions. Sturgis, a wide receiver, had 41 catches and four TDs, while Yates might be the most explosive of them all and contributes at running back and receiver. Senior Trevor Sharkey, last year’s backup QB, will be in the mix to take over as the starter and other candidates are junior Roger Baldacci and sophomores Brendan Leone and Zach Andrews. Experienced offensive linemen include seniors James Honey and Kenny Cockerill, an all-conference second-team selection, while senior Carson Shultz and junior Joe McKillop are returning wide receivers. Defensively, Honey returns on the line and senior Mike Treude is a veteran linebacker. The secondary is strong with Meintel, senior Jesse McDermott and junior Yahsym Grant.

OUTLOOK: The Minutemen went 4-6 in their final season under head coach Mark Wechter, who stepped down after 11 years at the helm. Lamont Robinson, who played college ball at Oklahoma and spent the last two seasons as a successful defensive coordinator at Millville, will look to get Township back to its winning ways in his first head coaching job.


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Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Family Magazine, Volume 8, Issue 5 (July, 2017). 
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Author: Matt Consentino


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