Coach Sean DeRosa of the Pinelands Regional High School football team doesn't mince words when asked what the Wildcats' goal is this season.
"We need to compete for a state championship," DeRosa said. "Expectations are high. We have to take it one game at a time, but our goal is to win a championship."
Pinelands returns the most talent it has had in several years and maybe in school history. The Wildcats, who were 5-5 in 2009, haven't had a winning season since 2004.
"This club has a little bit of everything," DeRosa said. "When these classes (come to Pinelands), they start as sophomores on one side of the ball. They play both sides of the ball as juniors. When you have a lot of kids who break the starting lineup when they're young, you can win when they're seniors."
The Wildcats feature 19 seniors. Chief among them is Division I college prospect Bobby Schwarzenberger, a 6-foot-3, 230-pound linebacker and fullback.
"He's an intelligent kid," DeRosa said. "He picks things up quickly. He's the leader of the defense. He gets the calls from the coaches and makes sure everybody is where they belong."
DeRosa thinks cornerback and running back Matt McLain should also be a Division I recruit. The 170-pound McLain ran for more than 1,000 yards in 2009. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds this summer.
"People shy away from him because of his size," DeRosa said, "But most of (McLain's) yards last year came after first initial contact. He had some runs where he broke seven and eight tackles."
Senior Mike Keller is back at quarterback. He's had time at the position since he was a freshman. Jake Hartmann, a 6-4 senior, is a talented wide receiver.
DeRosa calls 5-9, 200-pound Chuck McKelvey the best offensive lineman Pinelands has had in the coach's seven-plus years at the school.
"He's not a 6-4, 240-pound lineman," DeRosa said, "but he plays like a big man. His footwork is outstanding. He knows every position on the offensive line."
Noseguard Tyler Munson could be one of the best in the Shore Conference, according to DeRosa.
PLAYOFF APPEARANCES: 2
LAST APPEARANCE: 2004
PLAYOFF RECORD: 1-2
LEAGUE/GROUP: Shore Conference B South/South Jersey Group III
COACH: Sean DeRosa (19-42, six seasons)
2009 RECORD: 5-5
2010 PREDICTION: Contender. The last time the Wildcats returned this much talent was 2004, which was their last playoff
GAME TO WATCH:
Sept. 25 at Lacey Township.
Pinelands tests itself against one of Ocean County’s best. Lacey is the team to beat in B South.
Matt McLain, Sr., RB/DB, 5-9, 170; Bobby Schwarzenberger, Sr., FB/LB, 6-3, 230; Mike Keller, Sr., QB, 5-9, 175; Dan Vorhees, Sr., C, 5-10, 220; Chuck McKelvey, Sr., OL/DL, 5-9, 200; Jason Way, Sr., OL/DL, 6-2, 225; Paul Gentile, Sr., OL, 6-1, 250; Matt Heck, Sr., OLDL, 6-3, 225; Rob McCormick, Sr., TE/LB, 6-2, 225; Jake Hartmann, Sr., WR/DB, 6-4, 210; Marvin Barreau, Sr., WR, 5-9, 175; Brandon Gobel, Sr., WR/DB, 6-1, 180; Tyler Munson, Sr., NG, 6-2, 200; Cody Spagnola, Sr., LB, 5-9, 195; Jared Abrams, Sr., DB, 5-10, 190;