Gary Melton and his Cedar Creek High School football teammates will bring plenty of emotion to the field when they open the season against Lower Cape May Regional on Saturday.
"There's going to be this aura surrounding the team," Melton said. "We're going to act like it's the last time we're playing."
Ironically, it will be the first time the Pirates ever play. The game, which kicks off at 1 p.m. at Cedar Creek, is the school's first ever varsity football contest.
The football game will be the centerpiece of what the school is calling Varsity Day.
The Cedar Creek boys and girls cross country teams, girls tennis team, and boys and girls soccer teams also will play home games Saturday.
The Egg Harbor City school opened last year. The Pirates football team played a junior varsity schedule last season.
They will play an independent varsity schedule this year and join the Cape-Atlantic League in 2012.
A junior running back, the 16-year-old Melton is one of several talented skill position players Cedar Creek will rely on this season.
His father, also named Gary, starred at Absegami at running back in the 1980s and later played at Rutgers University.
In a telephone interview Wednesday night, the younger Melton spoke about the excitement of Cedar Creek's first game, the school's colors of maroon and forest green and his father's athletic ability.
On the players' attitude toward the first game: All the boys are on the edge of their chairs. I can't wait myself. The emotions are going to be off the charts. There's going to be so much intensity in the air. There's going to be sparks flying.
On the school's excitement toward the first game: Everyone is enjoying the school day and going to the classes but they see one of the football players and they say, 'Are you ready for Saturday?' That gets you even more hyped. Everyone can't wait to see what we got.
On the school's nickname and uniforms: The uniforms look great. I think we look like true ballers. Some people said forest green and maroon are out-there colors. But I like it.
We got a bunch of compliments from other schools. I like the Pirates nickname.
But I would have gone with Buccaneers.
On life at Cedar Creek: I would say it's like family. It's kind of small school. Everyone knows each other. You feel like you're at home.
On who's faster him or his father: That's a tough one. People say it's me. Other people say it's my dad.
Told to Michael McGarry