Kevin Stetser, the new coach of the Egg Harbor Township High School football team, describes himself as "an Egg Harbor Township guy."
His No. 1 goal as football coach is to create more "Egg Harbor Township guys."
The Egg Harbor Township Board of Education approved Stetser as coach Tuesday. Stetser, 38, graduated from EHT in 1993. He played both football and track and field. He was a member of the 1992 Eagles team that won the South Jersey Group III football championship. Stetser also worked for several years as an assistant coach at EHT, including last season.
"We need to keep our kids," Stetser said in a telephone interview Thursday afternoon. "We've always lost a kid or two (to parochial schools). But what's been going on lately is that we've been losing six, seven or eight kids each year. That's something we need to fix."
Stetser wants to make sure the EHT community knows the high school's strong points.
"We need to show the people what we have. Our facility is second to none. You come to this campus, it looks like a small college," Stetser said. "The education is second to none."
Stetser replaces Tony DeRosa, who was 90-74 in 16 seasons. But the district chose to open the job to other candidates over the winter. EHT finished 2-8 last season.
"I have all the respect in the world for Coach DeRosa," Stetser said. "A lot of things he's done are fantastic."
Stetser played football at the University of Delaware after graduating EHT. He helped start the township's Police Athletic League football program in the 2000s. He teaches special education at the school and lives in the Scullville section of the township with wife Laura, 6-year-old son Jack and 7-year-old daughter Madeleine.
"Kevin is Egg Harbor Township through and through," athletic director Mike Pellegrino said. "His connections in the town and his ability to network and build within the community is something we're looking to expand upon."
EHT competed in the South Jersey Group III enrollment group when Stetser played. Now the Eagles play in South Jersey Group V -- the largest enrollment group.
The Eagles were the second largest school in the group last fall with a sophomore through senior class enrollment of 1,876 students, according to the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. It can be difficult to unite such a big school.
"The town grew so fast," Stetser said, "that I feel like we've lost the sense of, 'I'm proud to come from Egg Harbor Township, and I want to go play for the high school.' I feel like the town has caught up (with the growth), and now is the time to build that community feeling.
"I know when the town is behind this team the positive things that happen."
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