The lineup: Defending state champions St. Joseph and Holy Spirit face each other on Saturday

Absegami running back David Hood.

The defenses of the Absegami and St. Joseph high school football teams won't get a chance to ease into the season.

The Cape-Atlantic League American Conference rivals open their season at 5:30 p.m. today at Absegami in Galloway Township. Both teams feature some of the league's best skill position players.

There are quarterback Mike Dolan and running back David Hood for Absegami. St. Joe counters with running backs Cody Sampson and Rocco Ordille. St. Joe, the defending conference champion, is No. 4 in The Press Elite 11.

Latest Video

The Wildcats beat Absegami 37-29 in last year's season opener on a hot humid day. Absegami led 20-14 at halftime. Hood scored three touchdowns in the first half. All of the scores covered at least 60 yards. But Hood barely played in the second half because of cramps from the heat.

Here's a preview of this weekend's schedule (Last year's records in parentheses).

Cape-Atlantic League

American Conference

St. Joseph (10-1) at Absegami (6-4)

5:30 p.m. today

St. Joe has won four straight state titles. Absegami lost in the South Jersey Group V quarterfinals to Atlantic City last season.

Oakcrest (1-9) at Egg Harbor Township (4-6)

4 p.m. today

Oakcrest will start freshman Kendall Elliott at quarterback. EHT is young but features veteran linemen in Eric Morrison and Austin Gray. EHT beat Oakcrest 14-9 last season.

Atlantic City (8-3) at No. 7 Millville (6-4)

7 p.m. today (1450 AM, also streamed live at

This is a matchup of 2012 South Jersey Group V playoff teams. Atlantic City reached the semifinals, while Millville lost in the quarterfinals. Eventual champion Williamstown eliminated both teams. Millville is No. 7 in The Press Elite 11. Atlantic City will start promising sophomore quarterback Jamir Prevard. Millville features some of the league's most high-profile players in lineman Antoine White, who has verbally committed to Penn State, and running back Rob Ennis, who rushed for 1,492 yards last season.

National Conference

St. Augustine Prep (8-2) at Middle Township (6-4)

7 p.m. today

St. Augustine is the defending conference champion. The Hermits are mostly young at the skill positions, with sophomore Jose Tabata at quarterback. Mike McGrath leads the veterans on the St. Augustine offensive line. Middle comes off its first playoff appearance since 2004. Junior Yamir McNeal (running back) and Jim Versage (linebacker) spark the Panthers.

Lower Cape May Regional (1-9) at Bridgeton (6-5)

7 p.m. today

Bill Miller makes his debut as the Lower Cape May coach. Bridgeton returns 10 starters from last season's 6-5 team, including running back Stefon Bowman (929 rushing yards last season) and quarterback/safety Ronald Williams.

Vineland (2-8) at Buena Regional (4-6)

7 p.m. today

Dan Russo makes his debut as Vineland's coach. Buena started 3-0, but dropped six of its final seven games last season. Buena sophomore Quadir Albright ran for 438 yards as a freshman. Buena quarterback Eric Rainear threw for 528 yards and four touchdowns last season.

Ocean City (3-7) at Cedar Creek (10-2)

1 p.m. Saturday (98.7 FM)

Ocean City should be improved behind running back Frank Woolley, who rushed for 1,148 yards and 10 touchdowns last season. Cedar Creek reached the South Jersey Group II final last year. The Pirates graduated several standouts, including Press Player of the Year Damon Mitchell, but return an offensive line that averages more than 250 pounds.

Shore Conference

Pinelands Regional (0-9) at No. 11 Lacey Township (10-1)

1 p.m. Saturday

Lacey lost in the South Jersey Group IV semifinals last season. The Lions are No. 11 in The Press Elite 11. Quarterback Tom Kelly threw for 1,223 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2012 despite missing two games with an injured collarbone. Lacey beat Pinelands 58-8 last season. Brian Wilkinson makes his debut as Pinelands coach.

West Jersey Football League

Deptford (4-6) at Cumberland Regional (4-6) (1240 AM)

7 p.m. today

Deptford beat Cumberland 33-0 in last year's season opener. Cumberland senior running back De'Han Milledge rushed 185 times for 1,182 yards last season.

Wildwood (6-4) at Clayton (5-5)

1 p.m. Saturday

Wildwood had one of the best seasons in school history last year, qualifying for the playoffs for the first time. But the Warriors had trouble finding players this year, and there were doubts in the preseason about whether they would field a team. Wildwood linebacker Jose Valentin may be the most underrated player in Atlantic or Cape May counties. Wildwood beat Clayton 16-8 last season.

Contact Michael McGarry:


Stay informed! Sign up to receive top headlines delivered to your inbox each morning.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.