There hasn’t been this much anticipation for an Absegami High School football season since 2006. The Braves won the South Jersey Group IV championship that season.
This season, the Braves return several standouts, led by Rutgers University-bound running back Ben Martin. They are the favorite in the Cape-Atlantic League American Division and a South Jersey Group IV title contender.
Coach Dennis Scuderi Jr. has his coaching clichés ready.
“We’re going to try to take it one game at a time and see where that takes us,” he said.
The 5-foot-10, 195-pound Martin rushed for 1,216 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. He runs the 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds.
“He’s looked outstanding in the preseason, but it’s still the preseason,” Scuderi said. “He gives us a legitimate threat to score from anywhere on the field. The key to our season is to keep him healthy.”
Martin runs behind an offensive line led by college prospect and three-year starter Steve Schwartz, who is 6-2, 290 pounds. The line also features 280-pound junior Mike Ottaviano.
“We feel like we have some depth on the line,” Scuderi said.
Rashad Kinlaw, a sophomore with enormous potential, takes over at quarterback. The 6-0 Kinlaw runs the 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds.
“He gives us a run/pass threat right away,” Scuderi said. “He’s a very football-savvy kid. He understands the game, and he’s very confident. We’re hoping he can manage the game and be more positive than negative.”
The majority of the front seven returns on defense, including all four linemen. At 6-3 and 280 pounds, senior defensive tackle Craig Johnson is difficult to block. Senior Tom Macauley is a three-year starter at linebacker.
Absegami can’t ease into the season. The Braves open Friday at Egg Harbor Township, last season’s CAL American Conference champion, and then host highly touted Holy Spirit on Sept. 17.
“I’m not sure in (this league) who an easy opener would be,” Scuderi said. “It’s a tough division. Everybody is well-coached and well-prepared.”
PLAYOFF APPEARANCES: 5
LAST APPEARANCE: 2006
PLAYOFF RECORD: 6-4
LEAGUE/GROUP: Cape-Atlantic League American/South Jersey Group IV
COACH: Dennis Scuderi Jr. (11-9, two seasons)
2009 RECORD: 6-4
2010 PREDICTION: Favorite. The Braves are the team to beat the American Division with running back Ben Martin, lineman Steve Schwartz and linebacker Tom Macauley.
GAME TO WATCH:
Sept. 17 vs. Holy Spirit.
These teams scrimmage every year but now they meet in the regular season. Both are highly touted this year.
Chris Collazzo, Sr., WR, 6-0, 178; Tom Macauley, Sr., LB, 5-11, 215; Ben Martin, Sr., RB, 5-10, 195; Kyle Wiggins, Jr., DB, 5-10, 194; Ryan Irwin, Jr., WR, 6-1, 175; Rashad Kinlaw, So., QB, 6-0, 180; Trevon Chance, Sr., FB, 6-0, 185; John Seddon, Sr., LB, 5-10, 191; Tyler Bing, So., WR, 5-6, 155; Mike Reilly, Jr., DB, 5-7, 180; Emil Robinson, So., DB, 5-10, 167; Nate Ross, Jr., DB, 5-10, 170; Alex Gong, Jr., LB, 5-10, 190; John Fishman, Jr., DL, 6-1, 210; Kyle Warker, Sr., OL, 6-3, 235; Dan Northridge, Sr., DL, 5-11, 225; Steve Schwartz, Sr., OL, 6-2, 290; Mike Ottaviano, Jr., OL, 6-3, 280; John Witmer, Jr., TE, 6-4, 208; Jason Sartorio, Sr., DL, 5-11, 210; Kevin Stadtmueller, Sr., DL, 6-3, 240; Craig Johnson, Sr., DL, 6-3, 280; Dean Adams, Sr., OL, 5-11, 270; Jose Campos, Sr., DB, 6-0, 185.