Craig James is too good a football player to play quarterback this season.
The Oakcrest senior is a Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) prospect at defensive back. Villanova University has shown the most interest.
On offense, he has been shifted from quarterback to running back. James is quick, fast and a hard hitter.
James did not play that much on special teams and defense the past three years because Oakcrest coach Scott Parker didn't want to risk getting him hurt.
"Being at quarterback kind of limited him," Parker said. "He's a physical kid. We need him out there returning kicks. He's a ball hawk on defense."
Oakcrest has struggled in the past. The Falcons didn't win more than three games in each of Parker's first three seasons. Oakcrest hasn't had a winning season since 1998.
But Parker believes better days are ahead and James is just one reason why.
"I couldn't be much happier," Parker said. "This is by far the best camp we've had. We'll be much improved. What that translates into remains to be seen."
The Falcons have plenty of speed and will run the ball more than they have the past three years. Oakcrest will use a Wing-T type offense.
"We feel we have four or five good running backs," Parker said. "We'll have a lot of three-back sets."
In addition to James, there's Myron Brown, who averaged better than four yards per carry last season.
Mike Smith, Bill Fursin, Isaiah Hart and freshman Brandon Bell also will get carries.
"There's going to be a rotation," Parker said.
Junior Dante Smith leads an offensive line that should open some holes for the backs.
"We're better than we've ever been up front," Parker said.
Senior nose guard Bill Cheatham anchors the defense.
"He's got an unbelievable motor," Parker said. "He just goes and goes. He's relentless."
PLAYOFF APPEARANCES: 1
LAST APPEARANCE: 1985
PLAYOFF RECORD: 0-1
LEAGUE/GROUP: Cape-Atlantic League American Conference/South Jersey Group IV
COACH: Scott Parker
(7-23, three seasons)
2008 RECORD: 2-8
2009 PREDICTION: Rebuilding.
If things break right, the Falcons could be a spolier behind Craig James and lineman Billy Cheatham.
THE GROUND GAME:
Oakcrest features a core of talented running backs led by Craig James and Myron Brown.
Myron Brown, Sr., RB/LB, 5-10, 205;
Mark Clements, So., WR/DB, 5-8, 168;
Michael Smith, Sr., RB/FDB, 5-10, 175;
Michael McMunn, Sr., WR/DB, 5-9, 167;
Ismail Showell, Jr,., WR/LB, 5-10, 180;
Kyle Belanger, Sr., K, 6-0, 175;
Larry Perna, Sr., QB/DB, 5-9, 165;
Craig James, Sr., RB/DB, 6-0, 196;
Billy Fursin, Jr., FB/LB, 5-9, 180;
Kevin Winstead, Jr., FB/DB, 5-9, 178;
Mark Forbes, Sr., FB/DL, 5-10, 220,
Brandon Bell, Fr., RB/LB, 6-0, 189;
Tim Williams, Sr., OL/LB, 6-0, 205;
Jordan Colbert, Sr., OL/LB, 5-8, 182;
Bill Cheatham, Sr., OL/DL, 5-10, 218;
Nick Hanusewicz, Sr., OL/DL, 6-0, 174;
Zak Reichenbach, Jr., OL/DL, 6-2, 212;
Dante Smith, Jr., OL/DL, 5-10, 235;
David Green, Jr., OL/DL, 6-2, 230.
Oakcrest's 2009 football schedule
Sept. 11: Millville, 7 p.m.
Sept. 18: Ocean City, 7:30 p.m
Sept. 25: Egg Harbor Township, 7 p.m.
Oct. 2: at Hammonton, 7 p.m.
Oct. 9: Smyrna (Del.), 7 p.m.
Oct. 16: at Atlantic City, 7 p.m.
Oct. 30: at Mainland Regional, 7 p.m.
Nov. 6: at Vineland, 7 p.m.
Nov. 26: at Absegami, 10 a.m.