The Cedar Creek High School football team begins its first varsity season with high goals.
"We want to make the playoffs," coach Tim Watson said. "When (the players) work on what we're trying to teach and play with emotion, I like our chances to compete."
Cedar Creek, whose nickname is the Pirates, opened last September with freshmen and sophomores attending. The school now has three classes for 2011-12. The Pirates have no seniors. Their first game is Saturday at home against Lower Cape May Regional.
"The kids have been champing at the bit for a while now," Watson said. "There's a little bit of a chip on their shoulders because they hear we're not going to be able to compete because we're young and don't carry any seniors."
Cedar Creek will play an independent schedule this season. The Pirates will join the Cape-Atlantic League in 2012.
Watson, a 1994 Mainland Regional graduate, starred at defensive tackle for Rowan University and was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in 2000.
Cedar Creek has talent at the skill positions. Quarterback and defensive back Damon Mitchell, a 6-foot-2, 195-pound junior, is a potential college prospect, according to Watson.
"I think by the time he's out of here he's going to get some serious looks, more so at safety because of his frame," Watson said.
Wide receiver Gary Melton has plenty of speed. His father, also named Gary, starred at Absegami in the 1980s and later played at Rutgers University.
"He's got it in his genes," Watson said of the younger Melton. "He has some big-play ability."
Tyshaun Mosley is also a dangerous receiver. Cedar Creek will run a multiple pro offense.
"We want to keep teams off balance by showing different looks," Watson said. "A lot of armchair quarterbacks were trying to get us to run the Wing-T or another of the system offenses, but we saw what we had early (talent-wise)."
But the Pirates' youth upfront could make them vulnerable to physically mature teams on the offensive and defensive lines.
"No matter how you slice it, we're young," Watson said. "We have some kids who we love, but they're young."
In addition to Lower Cape May, Cedar Creek's schedule includes Pleasantville. The Pirates also will play northern New Jersey teams Montclair Kimberley Academy and St. Joseph-Metuchen.
This season will be a learning experience for everyone involved in the Cedar Creek program.
"We don't really know a whole lot yet," Watson said.
Watson and the rest of the Pirates will know plenty when the season ends.
Contact Michael McGarry:
PLAYOFF APPEARANCES: 0
PLAYOFF RECORD: 0-0
LEAGUE/GROUP: Independent/South Jersey Group I
COACH: Tim Watson (first season)
2010 RECORD: This is Cedar Creek's first varsity season. The Pirates played a junior varsity schedule last season.
2011 PREDICTION: Spoiler - Despite their experience, the Pirates have the talent at the skill positions to pull off some surprises this season.
GAME TO WATCH: Saturday vs. Lower Cape May - The first varsity football contest in school history.