The Bridgeton High School football team returns plenty of talent. The Bulldogs will need all the talent they can muster.
Their schedule is one of southern New Jersey's toughest, thanks to the Cape-Atlantic League realignment.
Bridgeton plays St. Joseph, Holy Spirit, Egg Harbor Township and Mainland Regional.
Bridgeton is playing such tough teams in part because it has been so successful the past few years. The Bulldogs have made four straight playoff appearances and have the talent to make it five in a row.
"We have some players," Bridgeton coach Dave Ellen said.
Sean Henigin, a 6-foot-8, 330-pound junior offensive and defensive lineman, is a Division I prospect. He has been slowed in the preseason by a bruised knee, however.
Henigin was 6-5 as a freshman.
"He's that kid that colleges look for," Ellen said. "Everybody looks for offensive linemen. He's a wide body, big shoulders. He's a big mountain."
Henigin isn't the only size on the Bridgeton offensive and defensive lines. The Bulldogs also feature 6-5, 263-pound junior Sam Bell.
Junior quarterback Tamar Jackson has started since he was a freshman. He threw for 608 yards and six touchdowns last season.
"You just can't teach (experience)," Ellen said. "That's vital to our program. We haven't done too much teaching with him, just fine-tuning. Maybe we've added a new wrinkle here and there depending on our personnel."
Mike Cisrow, who led the CAL with 1,750 rushing yards last season, graduated. But Kevin Bunton ran for 355 yards and averaged 6.7 yards per carry last season.
"He runs very hard," Ellen said of Bunton. "He has good hands and is a tremendous athlete."
Jae DeShields is one of the CAL's top receivers.
Bridgeton is young on defense, especially at linebacker. Rashaun Smith, one of the region's most dominant linebackers last season, graduated and is now at Milford Academy, a prep school in New Berlin, N.Y.
PLAYOFF APPEARANCES: 7
LAST APPEARANCE: 2009
PLAYOFF RECORD: 9-5
LEAGUE/GROUP: Cape-Atlantic League United/South Jersey Group II
COACH: Dave Ellen (64-61, 11 seasons)
2009 RECORD: 7-4
2010 PREDICTION: Contender. The Bulldogs have made four straight playoff appearances and have the talent to make it in five in a row, but they must survive the Cape-Atlantic League’s toughest schedule.
GAME TO WATCH:
Sept. 17 vs. Egg Harbor Township. Bridgeton hosts the Eagles, who finished 11-1 and reached the South Jersey Group IV final last season.
Jerome Scurry, Jr., RB/DB, 5-10, 160; Tamar Jackson, Jr., QB/DB, 6-2, 175; Kevin Bunton, Sr., RB/DB, 5-8, 171; Taron Byers, Sr., DE, 6-0, 186; Shaquille Profit, Jr., TE/DE, 5-10, 176; Marquan Rissell, Jr., WR/DB, 5-11, 178; Tyler Haydak, Sr., LB, 5-10, 181; Jae DeShields, Sr., K/WR/DB, 6-1, 185; Mayricio Gutierrez, Jr., RB/LB, 5-9, 171; Lavon Hall, Sr., OL/LB, 5-10, 188; Sam Bell, Jr., OL/DL, 6-5, 263; Sean Henigen, Jr., OL/DL, 6-8, 330; Josh Swanson, Sr., OL, 5-11, 225; Damon McClough, Jr., DL, 5-9, 190.