The Millville High School football team has made three straight playoff appearances.
The Thunderbolts have the talent to make it four in a row. Millville should be one of the top teams in South Jersey Group V and the Cape-Atlantic League American Conference.
Millville will feature some of the Cape-Atlantic League's most talented players.
"We have guys who are dependable and are doing the right things," Millville coach Jason Durham said. "That gives us a good core to build around."
Defensive tackle Antoine White, a 6-foot-3, 270-pound senior, verbally committed to Penn State this summer. He commands the respect of his teammates as he was voted team captain as a junior last season.
White made 80 tackles - 14 of them for losses - last season and also contributed five sacks. Durham said White also has developed into an outstanding offensive tackle.
"I know that's not what he's going to play in college, but the fact that he's worked so hard to improve at that position is really helping our team," Durham said.
Linebacker Ed Shockley, a three-year starter, also has drawn interested from colleges.
"He knows the defense as well as we do at this point," Durham said.
Rob Ennis, a 5-10, 185-pound junior, is one of South Jersey's top running backs. He rushed for 1,492 yards and 18 touchdowns last season. Ennis saw time as a freshman. He has the speed to score every time he touches the ball no matter what yard line he gets it.
"As a football player, he's mature beyond his years," Durham said. "It feels like he's been around forever."
Speedy newcomer Ryquell Armstead will have an effect at wide receiver and running back. Roberto Rivera, who started at safety last season, steps in at quarterback. Rivera can throw and run.
"If you drew up what you wanted your quarterback to be leadership wise, he's exactly that," Durham said. "He's positive, yet competitive. He really gets along with his teammates. He talks to people the right way."
Durham likes the Thunderbolts' character and says the team should be able to cope with the emotional highs and lows of a season.
"This year's group, at least from what we've seen early on, does well with adversity," Durham said. "If things do get tough during the course of the season, I think they'll stick together."
Contact Michael McGarry:
Coach: Jason Durham (five seasons, 29-23)
League/Group: Cape-Atlantic League American Conference/South Jersey Group V
Last season's record: 6-4
Playoff appearances: 10
Playoff record: 7-9
2013 prediction: Contender – Thunderbolts are 23-9 the past three seasons.
Key game: Oct. 18 vs. Holy Spirit – This will be a matchup of CAL American Conference contenders at Millville's Wheaton Field. Millville beat Spirit 27-20 last season.
Key players: Antoine White, Sr., OL/DL, 6-3, 267; Ed Shockley, Sr., LB, 6-0, 214; Keyvon Rivera, Sr., OL/DL, 6-1, 240; Obi Kali, SR., OL/DL, 6-3, 245; Ron Ennis, Jr., RB, 5-10, 185; Roberto Rivera, Sr., QB/DB, 5-11, 155; Anthony Stubbs, Sr., LB, 6-1, 190; Brendyn Vandemark, Sr., K/P, 6-2, 185; Zach West, Sr., OL/DL, 5-8, 255; Adrian Jacquet, Jr., OL/DL, 6-1, 250; Lawson Worthy, Sr., RB/DB, 5-10, 170.
Top newcomers: Curtis Jones, Jr., OL/DL, 6-2, 280; Kyreem Loatman, Jr., WR/DB, 5-11, 170; Ryquell Armstead, Jr., WR, 5-10, 180