The Hammonton High School football team had one of the best seasons in school history last year. The Blue Devils won the South Jersey Group III title - the program's first since 1996.

Several standouts graduated from that team. But more than a few return.

Hammonton should again be a Cape-Atlantic League and South Jersey contender.

"We're pretty athletic, believe it or not," Hammonton coach Pete Lancetta said.

Running back Jared Sanchez gained nearly 400 yards last season. He also is a standout safety on defense.

"Jared bulked up in the offseason," Lancetta said. "He's elusive and he's a hitter on defense. He's going to be the key on both sides of the ball."

Tim Alexander returns at linebacker and should be one of the Cape-Atlantic League's best.

Hammonton also expects big things from 210-pound junior running back Jordan Brown, who transferred from Oakcrest.

"He moves pretty good for his size," Lancetta said.

C.J. Plummer, Steve Musto and Nate Hadden are back on the offensive line. C.J. Conway moves from wide receiver to tight end.

"Traditionally, we've just (got it) done there," Lancetta said. "Hopefully this year will be no different."

One of the graduated players is quarterback and defensive back Nick Crescenzo. Junior Tyler D'Amelio is expected to step in at quarterback.

"He's different," Lancetta said. "He doesn't run like Crescenzo. But he can throw the ball and he has improved his speed."

Lancetta said Hammonton hasn't dwelled on last season.

"That was then and this is now," he said. "I tell (this year's) seniors it's great you were part of that (championship). That can never be taken away from them. But you'll be remembered by what you do as a senior."

The biggest change for Hammonton is the time of its home games. The Blue Devils will play Saturday afternoons instead of Friday nights to save money.

"It's beyond out control," Lancetta said. "We live with it. We used to do it before. Now, we'll have a little mix. We play on Friday nights and home on Saturdays."

PLAYOFF APPEARANCES: 25

LAST APPEARANCE: 2009

PLAYOFF RECORD: 25-20

CHAMPIONSHIPS: 5

LEAGUE/GROUP: Cape-Atlantic League National/South Jersey Group III

COACH: Pete Lancetta (180-45-2, 21 seasons)

2009 RECORD: 11-1

2010 PREDICTION: Contender. The Blue Devils graduated several standouts, but more than enough quality players return to keep this perennial power at a high level.

GAME TO WATCH:

Oct. 8 vs. Egg Harbor Township.

Blue Devils host the only team to beat them last season.

TOP RETURNEES:

Tyler D’Amelio, Jr., QB, 5-9, 175; Jared Sanchez, Sr., RB/DB, 5-11, 175; Jordan Bown, Jr., RB/LB, 5-10, 210; Tim Alexander, Sr., RB/LB, 6-0, 175; Chris Brennan, Jr., WR/DB, 5-8, 165; Bobby Barbieri, Jr., WR/DB, 5-11, 185; Jason Crowder, Sr., WR, 6-3, 185; C.J. Plummer, Sr., OL/DL, 6-0, 265; Steve Musto, Sr., OL/DL, 5-11, 220; Nate Hadden, Jr., OL/DL, 5-8, 165; Brian Beebe, Jr., OL/DL, 5-11, 235; Mark Winters, Jr., OL/DL, 6-0, 195; C.J. Conway, Sr., TE/DB, 6-3, 190; A.J. Scibilia, Jr., DE, 5-9, 170; Pat Fiorentino, So., LB, 5-8, 185; D.Q. Mason, Sr., RB/DB, 5-8, 165