Running back David Hood of the Absegami High School football team doesn't want to forget last season's playoff loss to Atlantic City.
Absegami led the Vikings by 17 points in the fourth quarter. But Atlantic City rallied and beat Absegami 34-30 in the South Jersey Group V quarterfinal.
"That game made us even want to go harder against every team this upcoming season," Hood said. "We don't want to ever lose like that ever again. We're going hard in practice and everything we do."
Absegami has the talent to return to the playoffs.
The Braves should feature one of the Cape-Atlantic League's top offenses. Hood scored 12 touchdowns last season and has verbally committed to Temple University. Maurice Hubbard and Vinnie Nelson should compliment Hood at running back.
"He's explosive," Braves coach Dennis Scuderi Jr. said of Hood. "But we can't put it all on his lap."
Senior quarterback Mike Dolan started most of the past two seasons. Scuderi said Dolan ran and threw the ball well in the preseason.
"Mike is steady," Hood said. "It's not like he's loud. He's going to go hard the whole game, and you're going to follow his footsteps to win."
Starters Roman Rudisill, Matt English and Duke Becker return on the offensive line.
Absegami will be inexperienced on defense with only three starters returning. Defensive end Christian Henchy was a Cape-Atlantic League American Conference All Star last season.
"He gives us toughness and leadership," Scuderi said. "He's been in the fire. He's the motivating factor for the defense."
Newcomer Abdul Anderson, a 6-4 senior, has plenty of potential at defensive end. Senior Ryan Kurz impressed at linebacker in the preseason. Hubbard and Ryan Ganard give the Braves experience in the secondary.
"The cupboard is not totally bare (on defense)," Scuderi said.
Scuderi said the Braves must play better defense to reach their potential this season.
"We haven't played good defense here in a couple of years and we need to play better," Scuderi said. "We've played defense sporadically, but we need to be a much more consistent team this year.
"A lot of it is energy and effort. You might not be successful on every drive. Teams are going to do good things. But playing with energy and effort gives you a chance. That's what I'm going to preach."
Contact Michael McGarry:
Coach: Dennis Scuderi Jr. (Five years at Absegami, 26-24)
League/Group: Cape-Atlantic League American Conference/South Jersey Group V
Last season's record: 6-4
Playoff Appearances: 8
Playoff record: 6-7
2013 prediction: Spoiler – Running back David Hood and quarterback Mike Dolan lead an offense talented enough to beat any Cape-Atlantic League team.
Key game: Friday vs. St. Joe – The Braves host the defending Cape-Atlantic League American Conference and state Non-Public I champions. St. Joe beat Absegami 37-29 in last year's season opener.
Key players: David Hood, Sr., RB/DB, 6-0, 190; Maurice Hubbard, Sr., RB/DB, 5-10, 172; Christian Henchy, Sr., TE/DE, 6-2, 211; Vinnie Nelson, So., RB/DB, 5-9, 166; Ryan Ganard, Sr., WR/DB, 5-9, 178; Tyler Welch, Jr., WR, 6-1, 180; Buck Amend, Sr., WR, 5-11, 176; Austin Shiner, So., WR, 6-2, 180; Roman Rudisill, Sr., OL/DL, 6-2, 272; Matt English, Sr., OL/DL, 6-1, 205; Duke Becker, Sr., OL/DL, 6-2, 251; Mike Dolan, Sr., QB, 5-10, 174; Abdul Anderson, Sr., DE, 6-4, 220; Ryan Kurz, Sr., TE/LB, 5-10, 197