Nothing Egg Harbor Township does this season should surprise anyone.
The Eagles return numerous standouts from last season's 6-4 team and are the preseason favorite to win the Cape-Atlantic League American Conference.
"We're taking it in stride what the papers are saying," EHT coach Tony DeRosa said. "But we have to take care of business."
EHT showed its potential and stunned fans when it nearly upset undefeated Mainland Regional last Thanksgiving.
The Eagles led Mainland 27-7 in the third quarter but lost 30-27. Ten days later, Mainland beat Southern Regional 21-14 to win the South Jersey Group IV title and finish 12-0.
The Eagles spent the off-season building toward the fall. They were involved in a seven-on-seven event at Monmouth University this summer and beat traditional state power Don Bosco Prep.
DeRosa was quick to say that seven-on-seven does not equate to "real" football.
"We're becoming a team again (this summer)," DeRosa said. "Our kids are very, very excited about the season. We want to be the hardest working, best conditioned, most disciplined team in the CAL."
EHT must replace quarterback Tim Little, who graduated after throwing for 1,662 yards and 20 touchdowns. (Little is now at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn.)
EHT plans to shift Scott Miler from wide receiver to quarterback. Miller caught 44 passes for 600 yards and 10 touchdowns. He is being recruited several I-AA schools and Ivy League schools.
"Scott gives us such an athlete back there," DeRosa said.
Wide receiver and defensive back Tejay Johnson is one of the state's top college prospects.
As talented and speedy as the skill position players are, EHT's strength is its defense.
Linebackers Zach Agostino, Stephan Thomas, Mark Capetola and Christian Santiago are at the core of that unit.
PLAYOFF APPEARANCES: 9
LAST APPEARANCE: 2008
PLAYOFF RECORD: 6-7
LEAGUE/GROUP: Cape-Atlantic League American Conference/South Jersey Group IV
COACH: Tony DeRosa (63-49, 12 seasons)
2008 RECORD: 6-4
2009 PREDICTION: Favorite.
The Eagles feature tremendous speed and athleticism at the skill positions.
THE GROUND GAME:
EHT has number of talented backs, including Tejay Johnson, Zach Agostino and Stephan Thomas.
KEY RETURNEES: Zach Agostino, Sr., FB/LB, 5-10, 205; Matt Capetola, Sr., RB/DB, 5-8, 180; Mark Capetola, Sr., TE/LB, 6-1, 220; Tejay Johnson, Sr., RB/DB, 6-2, 178; Scott Miller, Sr., QB/DB, 5-11, 175; Christian Santiago, Sr., OL/LB, 5-11, 225; Joe Borden, Sr., OL, 6-0, 290; Joe Magosin, Sr., SE, 6-1, 165; Darryl Pratt, Sr., OL/DL, 5-10, 205; Shane Delaney, Sr., LB, 5-10, 215; Alex D'Aloia, Sr., SE/DB, 5-11, 165; Jim Huntzinger, Sr., OL/LB, 5-10, 215; Stephan Thomas, Jr., RB/LB, 5-10, 180; Kevin Marquez, Jr., TE/LB, 6-0, 200; Jordan Newmones, Jr., RB/DB, 5-9, 160; Dominic Moody, Jr., RB/LB, 5-10, 195.
TOP NEWCOMERS: Jeremy Hudson, Sr., OL, 6-4, 290; Marcos Martinez, Sr., OL/D1, 5-9, 230; Mike Morgan, Sr., QB, 6-2, 185; Cody Ng, Sr., DB/RB, 5-6, 155; Mike Tweedle, Sr., DB/RB, 5-8, 150; Jay Atwell, Jr., SE/DB, 5-9, 155; Alan Banaga, Jr., OL/D1, 6-0, 255; Alex Banaga, Jr., OL/D1, 6-0, 255; Doug Bolden, Jr., SE/DB, 6-0, 150; Dion Harris, Jr., OT/DT, 5-2, 220; Stephan Johnson, Jr., SE/DB, 5-8, 155; Markendy Smith, Jr., RB/DB, 5-8, 155; Maurice Stockoly, Jr., SE/DB, 6-2, 165.
Egg Harbor Township's Schedule
Sept. 11: at Atlantic City 7 p.m.
Sept. 17: at Millville 7 p.m.
Sept. 25: at Oakcrest 7 p.m.
Oct. 2: Absegami 7 p.m.
Oct. 9: at Kingsway Regional 7 p.m.
Oct. 16: Vineland 7 p.m
Oct. 23: Ocean City 7 p.m.
Nov. 6: at Hammonton 7 p.m.
Nov. 26: Mainland Regional 10 a.m.