Tom Kelly hopes for a better 2013 than 2012.

The Lacey Township High School quarterback broke his collarbone in his junior season and had surgery.

He returned in time for last season's playoffs, but is fully healed now as he leads the Lions into 2013.

"It only took me two or three weeks to recover fully," Kelly said. "It was a pretty effective recovery. Really quick too, so that was nice."

Longtime Lacey coach Lou Vircillo said that Kelly is an established leader as the Lions attempt to repeat the success of their 10-1 record in 2012.

"He's definitely a leader," Vircillo said. "He's a very competitive guy. He approaches the game with a competitive spirit. He commands a lot from the people around him and that's not easy to do with high school kids.

"But they respect him so hopefully things can go well for him."

Following a season in which the Lions lost to Kingsway 42-28 in the South Jersey Group IV semifinals, anything short of a sectional championship will be a disappointment for Kelly and his teammates.

"There is only one expectation, and that is to win a championship," Kelly said. "Last year we won the A South, and, yes it's great to win your conference, but that doesn't matter when you don't win the big one. That was disappointing last year and we have to try and build on that."

Lacey Township lost key running back Kyle Spatz to graduation. Replacing the two-time, 1,000-yard rusher will be a difficult task that Vircillo will look to solve by committee - seniors Chris Jensen and Ian O'Laughlin and junior George Sayre.

"We expect our tailbacks to always be entering this season thinking they're the go-to guy and we have a couple of guys that we think we can rely on this year," said Vircillo, who is entering his 39th season.

"Because some of these kids also play defense, it's possible that we will be playing (running back) by committee."

Last season marked Lacey Township's first in the tougher Shore Conference A South division.

"Most of the teams in this league are Group V. So week after it week it can be a black-and-blue kind of division," Vircillo said with a laugh.

"There are more athletes and sometimes the size factor is bigger than the B South."

Contact John Russo:


Coach: Lou Vircillo (258-116-3, 38 seasons)

League/Group: Shore Conference A South/Group IV

Last season's record: 10-1

Playoff appearances: 18

Championships: 4

Playoff record: 18-14

2013 prediction: Contender - Lions will rely on seniors to contend for a sectional title.

Game to watch: Oct. 19 vs. Southern Regional - Southern and Lacey are two of South Jersey's perennial powers.

Key returnees: Tom Kelly, Sr., QB/LB, 6-1, 185; Conor Davies, Jr., QB/DB, 5-10, 150; Christian Tutela, Sr., WR/DB/P, 5-11, 190; Chris D'Addarrio, Sr., OL/DL, 6-0, 255; Frank Cimirro, Jr., OL/DL, 5-10, 235; Matt McGovern, Sr., OL/DL, 6-3, 230; Isaiah Brown, Jr., FB/TE/LB, 6-0, 200; Chris Jensen, Sr., RB/DB, 5-8, 185.

Top newcomers: James Peaney, Jr., OL/DL, 5-10, 195; Jake Hikade, Sr., OL/DL, 6-3, 220; Joe MacAvoy, So., OL/DL, 6-3, 245; Mike Bocchini, Jr., WR/DB, 5-10, 160; Ian O'Loughlin, Sr., RB/DB, 5-5, 170; George Sayre, Jr., RB/DB, 5-9, 175; Pat Davis, So., K/WR/DB, 5-9, 150; Justin Longo, Sr., RB/DB, 5-9, 170; Tarique Smith, So., DL/OL, 5-11, 230; Chandler Hammer, Sr., OL/DL, 6-1, 230; Jacob Post, So., LB/FB, 5-11, 205; Brian Lester, Jr., LB/TE, 6-0, 195; Travis Covell, Sr., WR/DB, 6-3, 180; Sean Frank, Sr., RB/LB, 6-1, 175; Lucas Sirotniak, Jr., LB/TE, 6-3, 195; Dan Velez, Sr. WR/DB, 5-7, 155.