More will be known about the Millville High School football team after tonight.
The undefeated Thunderbolts face their biggest test of the season so far when they meet Cape-Atlantic League American Division rival Absegami (2-2). Kickoff is 7 p.m. at Millville's Wheaton Field.
Millville made the South Jersey Group IV playoffs last year and has won all four of its games by an average margin of 26.3 points this year. The Thunderbolts are No. 9 in The Press Elite 11.
Yet Millville has its doubters.
Some southern New Jersey fans wonder how good the Thunderbolts are because they haven't beaten a team with a winning record.
"Every week we want to come out with a win," Millville lineman and team leader Nick Tyndal said. "If we don't win, we feel like we let people down. If we beat this team, people will be like, ‘Wow, they can come out with wins against good teams.' "
There is no denying Millville's talent. The Thunderbolts are an experienced group. Tyndal is a four-year starter.
Speedy running back Alquann Jones leads the CAL in rushing with 745 yards. The 5-foot-9, 172-pound senior averages 7.6 yards per carry.
"Our offensive line has a great connection with him," Tyndal said. "He knows what we're going to do and we know what he's going to do. He'll go into the middle of the line. There's really not anything there, and he'll just squirt out of the hole somewhere."
Quarterback Shaq Lee provides leadership on offense with three touchdown passes.
Durham points out that Millville already has beaten some highly touted opponents. Millville beat Oakcrest, which reached the South Jersey Group IV final last year, 33-7 on Sept. 16. The Thunderbolts also beat Egg Harbor Township, a playoff team last year, 30-6 on Sept. 23.
Durham took over the Millville program in 2008, The Thunderbolts went 1-9 and 5-5 in his first two seasons, But last year Millville finished 6-4 and made the playoffs for the first time since 1998.
This year's seniors are the first class Durham and his staff have had an opportunity to coach all four of their years.
"We have some good football players who have bought into our system," Durham said. "We've had considerably less penalties than our opponents (this season). The kids have gone out there and played the game the right way."
In Absegami, the Thunderbolts will face a talented team with plenty of motivation of its own. A win gives a big boost to Absegami's South Jersey Group IV playoff hopes. Braves quarterback Rashad Kinlaw may be the CAL's most talented player. The junior has produced 617 yards and seven touchdowns with his running and throwing.
"They have a lot of weapons and defensively they're aggressive," Durham said. "I think it's important to slow down their run game."
Absegami should also be motivated by last year's game.
Millville withstood two Absegami fourth-quarter touchdowns to win 33-21.
"They're going to come in here very motivated," said Durham, who also noted that Absegami was off last weekend, giving the Braves two weeks to prepare for tonight's game.
Few towns support high school football like Millville does. The school sells season tickets to its home games.
"Everyone asks questions about the team or wishes us luck everywhere I go," Tyndal said. "A lot of people are going to come out. We're 4-0, and they know Absegami is good. With a game like that, there should be a lot of fans on our side and hopefully they bring a lot of their fans too."
Tonight's game will only partially define both teams' seasons, but it will probably serve as a preview to what will come for both Millville and Absegami. Both will have three more games until the South Jersey Group IV playoff field is decided the first weekend in November.
"This is one of those big midseason (games)," Durham said. "It will be a measuring stick for us, but we want to keep in perspective that there are more games to be played."
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