The Southern Regional High School football team doesn't have any glamorous college prospects.
But coach Chuck Donohue likes this team as much as any one he's coached in his 12 previous seasons at the school.
"There are no stars," Donohue said. "But they play well together. They were unbelievable in the offseason. It looks like one of those type of teams that doesn't look the part but plays the part. We've had some teams in the past that looked the part, but didn't play the part."
The Rams started 0-2 last season but won six of their next eight games to finish 6-4. Southern reached the 2008 South Jersey Group IV final, losing to Mainland Regional 21-14.
Southern should continue its winning ways this season. Donohue calls the A South Division wide open.
"That's in our favor," Donohue said.
The Rams will find out how talented they are in a hurry. Southern opens Friday at Red Bank Catholic, which is projected to be one of the Shore Conference's top teams.
"There won't be any secrets after that's over," Donohue said.
Southern always plays strong defense, and this year should be no exception. Seniors Rob Boyle (outside linebacker) and Eric McMahon (inside linebacker) and Bill Shimko (safety) lead the defense.
"We're way ahead defensively this year from last," Donohue said. "It's not even close. Those three guys have really stepped up in the leadership part of it."
Southern's skill players are inexperienced but fast, according to Donohue.
Donohue said Shimko, who at 185 pounds is 15 pounds heavier than last season, is also an underrated running back.
"He has tremendous vision," Donohue said. "He understands the offense well, and he's a very good cutback runner."
The Rams have depth at receiver with sophomore Kevin Barreau, junior Ryan North and junior Alec Morris, who will miss the first three games with a foot injury.
"When he comes back," Donohue said, "we're very talented at the wide receiver position."
Senior Eric Sullivan has the edge at quarterback. Sophomore Dan Higgins is a talented quarterback and will also probably see action during games.
PLAYOFF APPEARANCES: 6
LAST APPEARANCE: 2008
PLAYOFF RECORD: 3-6
LEAGUE/GROUP: Shore Conference A South/South Jersey Group IV
COACH: Chuck Donohue (204-141-4, 36 seasons)
2009 RECORD: 6-4
2010 PREDICTION: Spoiler. The Rams will be led by a talented
sophomore class and the fastest group of skill position players Southern has ever had.
GAME TO WATCH:
Oct. 15 vs. Toms River North.
The Rams host the A South favorites.
Alec Morris, Jr., WR/DB, 6-1, 175; Jackman Bush, Jr., RB/LB/LS, 5-10, 175; Bill Shimko, Sr., RB/DB, 5-10, 185; Rob Boyle, Sr., OL/OLB, 6-0, 215; Eric McMahon, Sr., OL/LB, 5-9, 190; Jake Rossini, Sr., OL, 6-0, 265; Ryan Boyle, So., OL/DL, 5-10, 210.
Ryan North, Jr., WR/DB/K, 6-0, 170; Eric Sullivan, Sr., QB/P, 5-11, 190; Kevin Barreau, So., WR/DB, 5-11, 165; Dan Higgins, So., QB/DB, 6-0, 175; D.J. Pandolpho, Jr., TE/OLB, 6-3, 210; T.J. Bellissimo, Jr., RB/DB, 5-10, 165; Tyler Wilk, Jr., QB/DB, 6-1, 170; Joe Fiorelli, Jr., WR/DB, 5-11, 165; Cody Eastburn, Sr., RB/LB, 5-10, 180; Richie Wiesz, So., RB/DB, 5-7, 150; Lou Romano, Jr., DL, 5-10, 215; Anthony Speziale, So., TE/LB, 6-4, 200; Bobby Bleichner, Sr., OL, 5-10, 220; Sal Munafo, Sr., OL, 5-10, 220; Kyle Cox, Sr., OL/DL, 6-1, 265;Nick Munafo, So., OL/LB, 5-10, 180; Zeb Collins, Jr., OL/DL, 6-0, 210; Dylan Spina, Jr., OL/DL, 5-10, 200; Nick Jinks, So., OL/OLB, 6-0, 205; Alex Cattelona, Jr., OL/LB, 5-10, 190; Steve Hodgson, Jr., TE/DB, 5-11, 175.