This year's Southern Regional High School football team will feature a characteristic it hasn't had in years and maybe ever.

Speed.

The Rams hope to convert that speed into big plays on offense.

"We're going to be more of an offensive team," said Southern coach Chuck Donohue, who begins his 14th season this year. "Over the years, we've played to our defense. This year, I feel confident we can take shots down the field and make teams defend the whole length of the field. I really don't think we've ever been able to do that."

Southern returns numerous players from last season's 5-5 team. Many of those players are juniors who started as sophomores.

The Rams should contend for the Shore Conference A-South title and a South Jersey Group IV playoff spot.

Team speed isn't the only difference between this year's Rams and the school's past teams. Southern isn't as big as it usually is.

"We're very small," Donohue said. "We don't have big linemen right now and normally that's always been our strength. I'm concerned about a team upfront that can pound us. We have to control the line of scrimmage with movement, quickness and pressure."

Southern must also overcome a preseason injury. Nick Munafo, a standout linebacker, is out five weeks with a neck injury.

"We're going to be overly cautious," Donohue said.

The Rams return eight starters on defense. Senior linebacker Jackman Bush is a three-year starter.

"He has to step up and be an outstanding player and not just one of the guys," Donohue said.

Senior defensive end Ryan Boyle has started since he was a freshman. The Rams also expect big contributions on offense and defense from senior wide receiver and defensive back Alec Morris, who is completely healthy for the first time in years. Morris was hobbled as a sophomore and junior by a foot injury that occurred in the 2009 season opener.

On offense, wide receiver Kevin Barreau finished fourth in the South Jersey Group IV 100-meter dash last spring.

"We have a kid who can get down the field," Donohue said.

Quarterback Dan Higgins played some last year.

"We have high hopes for him," Donohue said. "He throws the ball very, very well and has a good understanding of the offense. I like the way the kid plays."

Contact Michael McGarry:

609-272-7185

PLAYOFF APPEARANCES: 7

LAST PLAYOFF APPEARANCE: 2008

PLAYOFF RECORD: 3-7

CHAMPIONSHIPS: 0

LEAGUE/GROUP: Shore Conference A South/South Jersey Group IV

COACH: Chuck Donohue (209-145-4, 38 seasons)

2010 RECORD: 5-5

2011 PREDICTION: Contender - Rams will feature plenty of speedy players - a rarity for them.

GAME TO WATCH: Oct. 1 vs. Brick Memorial: Rams host last season's Central Jersey Group IV finalist.

 

Southern Regional 2011 football roster

No. Name Position Year
1 Ryan North WR/DB/K 11
2 Grant Bissey RB/LB 10
3 Kevin Barreau WR/DB 11
4 Dan Higgins QB/P 11
6 Richie Weisz RB/DB 11
8 Alec Morris WR/DB 12
9 D.J. Pandolpho TE/OLB/K 12
10 T.J. Bellissimo RB/DB 12
11 Jimmy Ayers TE/DB 11
12 Tyler Wilk QB/WR/H 12
13 Jackman Bush RB/LB/LS 12
14 Al Manzo WR/LB 11
15 Rob Yaiser RB/DB/K 10
16 Dan Uccellini QB/DB 10
17 Christian Salva RB/DL 11
18 Mike Gesicki QB/WR/DB 10
19 Logan Sheehan WR/DB 10
20 Kevin Behr RB/DB 11
21 David Behr RB/OLB 9
22 Steve Hodgson WR/DB 12
23 Vinnie Colecchia WR/DB 10
24 Joe Fiorelli WR/DB 12
25 Nick Hem WR/DB 11
26 Richie Lyons WR/DB 10
27 Chris Arocho RB/DB 10
28 Oliver Bissey RB/DB 11
30 Lou Romano DL 12
32 Anthony Speziale TE/OLB 11
33 Brian Carey WR/DB 12
34 Cody Schmutz RB/LB 10
35 Nick Gruber RB/DB 11
36 Abe Gonzalez RB/OLB 11
37 Tony Kampert WR/DB 11
39 Curtis Michael RB/DB 12
42 Josh Throckmorton TE/DL 10
45 Jesse Bauta FB/OLB 10
47 Manny Bowen RB/OLB 9
48 John Edwards FB/LB 11
49 Matt Kelly FB/DL 12
50 Bailey Bellissimo OL/DL 10
51 Frank Miele OL/DL 12
52 Kevin Fitzpatrick OL/LB 12
53 Alex Cattelona OL/LB 12
54 Mason Fazekas OL/DL 10
56 Tom Pasquale OL/DL 11
58 Nick Munafo OL/LB 11
59 Frank Thissen OL/DL 11
60 Zeb Collins OL/DL 12
61 Dylan Spina OL 12
62 Kyle Readel OL/DL 12
63 Justin Clapper OL/DL 12
64 Nick Jinks OL/DL 11
65 Dylan Kozen OL/DL 12
66 Josh Ghigliotty OL/DL 12
68 Evan Osborne OL 11
70 Alex Chiemelewski OL/DL 11
71 Chris Heins OL/OLB 10
73 Mark Heslin OL/OLB 11
74 Steve Tarricone OL/DL 11
76 Ryan Boyle OL/DL 11
77 C.J. Lovas OL/DL 10
78 Ed Bergested OL/DL 11
79 Tim Byrnes OL/DL 12
81 Mike Moran TE/DL 11
84 David Hunter TE/OLB 10
85 Ryan Jensen WR/DB 10
86 Zach Amirr TE/OLB 11
89 Matt Guinee FB/LB 12
91 Andrew Guadalupe MGR 12

Southern Regional 2011 football schedule

Date Opponent Time
Sept. 9 vs. Red Bank Catholic L, 28-7
Sept. 17 at Colts Neck W, 21-6
Sept. 24 at Toms River South W, 28-7
Oct. 1 vs. Brick Memorial W, 21-20
Oct. 8 vs. Jackson Memorial W, 21-14
Oct. 14 at Toms River North W, 41-20
Oct. 21 vs. Toms River East W, 21-18
Oct. 28 at Freehold Township W, 28-0
Nov. 4 at Middletown North W, 28-0
Nov. 11 vs. Triton Regional L, 26-7