In many ways, the Bridgeton High School football team will start over this season.
The Bulldogs’ home field has been renovated. The stadium now features shiny new aluminum bleachers and an artificial grass field. It is one of the most impressive facilities in the Cape-Atlantic League.
“The kids are really excited,” Bulldogs coach Dave Ellen said. “It’s enjoyable to be out there. I’m sure we’re going to get good turnout from the community (for games).”
The Bulldogs also graduated 21 seniors from last season’s 6-4 team. Most off the current Bulldogs are inexperienced sophomores. Bridgeton faces a rebuilding season.
“I don’t like to use the term rebuilding,” Ellen said, “but that definition is probably us this year.”
The Bulldogs have gone back to basics.
“When we put in a play, we make sure everybody has it before we go on to the next one,” Ellen said.
Although the Bulldogs are young, they have plenty of enthusiasm for football, according to Ellen. The coach finds himself waiting for “light-bulb moments” when players grasp a concept or fully understand a play.
“They’re a hard-working group,” the coach said. “They’re thirsty (for football knowledge). They ask questions. That’s great. As a coach, it’s fun to go to practice.”
Sophomore running back Stefon Bowman is one of Bridgeton’s few returnees. The 5-foot-7, 155-pound Bowman rushed 132 times for 722 yards last season.
“He’s got good burst with a good first step,” Ellen said. “He’s compact. You can get a good amount of carries out of him.”
Cappadonna Miller, a 5-7, 145-pound wide receiver and defensive back, is another sophomore who got playing time last season.
Miller and Bowman will also start at cornerback.
“I know people are going to go after them (on defense),” Ellen said, “but they don’t care. They have tons of confidence. They want the play to come to them. They both want the ball on offense.”
Ronald Williams, a junior, takes over at quarterback. Williams was the backup the past two seasons.
“He knows the whole offense,” Ellen said. “He’s very calm and throws a catchable ball. He’s very accurate, and he’s going to be a threat running the ball.”
Bridgeton will compete in every game, but Ellen wants to see the team grow this season.
“We want to get better every day,” he said, “and everything else just takes care of itself.”
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