Brandon Bell and his Oakcrest High School football teammates are back in the playoffs for the second straight year.

Last season, Oakcrest made its first playoff appearance since 1986. The 2010 Falcons reached the South Jersey Group IV final, losing to Cherokee 33-6.

Bell said Oakcrest fans are again pumped up this season.

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"It's the same as last year," Bell said. "We're all hyped to be here again. Around school kids are excited. It's still kind of fresh to us."

The sixth-seeded Falcons (5-3) play at third-seeded Moorestown (5-4) at 6 p.m. today in a South Jersey Group III quarterfinal.

Oakcrest started 1-3 this season but has won four straight - all by shutout.

Bell, a 6-foot-2, 212-pound junior, excels at linebacker and running back. He's rushed for 261 yards and four touchdowns. Bell leads the team with 91 tackles - 17 of them for losses. He has six sacks, three fumble recoveries and an interception. He's scored two defensive touchdowns.

In a telephone interview Tuesday night, Bell spoke about a number of topics, including the differences between a playoff and regular-season game.

On Oakcrest making its second straight playoff appearance: I think it's a big testament to coach Smith (Oakcrest head coach Chuck Smith) turning the whole outlook of Oakcrest football around.

On Oakcrest's 1-3 start: We had to be resilient. Our coaches always speak to us about that. They tell us to keep our heads up and keep working. We made a lot of changes after that start. But everybody was ready for the changes. It didn't mater what positions guys had to go to. They just did it. We came together.

On the difference between a regular season contest and a playoff game: When you're playing in the playoffs, it's the big show. It's for the championship and that's what every team wants. You realize you're going home if you lose. You have to player harder.

On playing an unfamiliar opponent in the playoffs: It's very different. You've never seen them before. You're not sure how they play. You see them on film, but you don't know what kind of guys they are. But I kind of like it. They don't know how you play. It's kind of even.

On what he prefers - offense or defense: I love both sides of the ball, but I guess I have to say defense. I like hitting more than running.

Told to Michael McGarry

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