Football is different at Lacey Township High School.

The game is in the school's blood.

Youth football players from the city flock to the high school on Saturday afternoons for home games.

They play pickup games underneath the old wooden bleachers in hopes of one day doing the same on the adjacent field.

"We have a strong tradition here," senior Brandon Boos said. "We had a little bit of a down year last year but almost our whole defense is back. All the seniors are motivated to win and get back on top."

The Lions went 4-6 last season.

A four win-season is acceptable at many schools.

Not Lacey.

"I like that," Boos said. "It gives us a high point to aim for. We know we're going to go out there and win. We're not going to say we hope we win. We go out there and we know we're going to win."

Running back Kyle Spatz returns after rushing for 1,000 yards last season as a junior and leads the offense.

Boos will spend time in the backfield with Spatz and leads the defense from his safety spot.

Junior Christian Tutela won't leave the field very often on either side of the ball or special teams and gives the team a playmaker all over the field.

Senior lineman Joe Elefante (6-foot-2, 260) will look to open up holes for Spatz and company.

Tom Kelly returns at quarterback and will have an increased role in the offense this season as head coach Lou Vircillo plans on opening up the playbook.

"We're balancing the offense this year," Vircillo said.

"We worked really hard with our passing attack and tried to balance what we've been doing. We couldn't keep people off of our running game last year."

The Lions won the 7 vs. 7 Shore Conference summer league this year and are excited about the upcoming season.

Lacey is switching from B-South to A-South in the Shore Conference and from South Jersey Group III to Group IV with the addition of a fifth enrollment group for football.

Boos makes sure not to forget about the pickup game under the bleachers.

"My whole life, ever since I was little, I used to be the little kid looking up to all the kids," Boos said. "Now it's the opposite."

Contact John O'Kane:

609-272-7210