Southern Regional wants to continue to build on its success.
The Rams come off the best season in school history. They won a school-record 10 games and lost in the South Jersey Group IV final 21-14 to Mainland Regional. Southern won eight games in 2007. The Rams have made the playoffs four of the past five seasons.
Although they graduated numerous players, including standout linebackers Glenn Carson and Anthony Stroffolino, the Rams still want to contend for the playoffs and the Shore Conference American Division title.
"Every year at successful programs different people step up," coach Chuck Donohue said. "I think that's the way we are. To take a step backward this season would be disappointing. I don't think that's going to happen."
The Rams will feature a number of seniors, who have limited experience. Most of them played for Southern's undefeated junior varsity team last season.
"It's hard to play as a junior or sophomore at a Group IV school," Donohue said. "It's not like these kids haven't played and haven't had success. But they're learning quickly the difference between JV and varsity football."
Much is expected of Southern's few returnees.
"The kids that did play last season have to be better," Donohue said. "They can't be the same players they were last year."
Southern returns talent at wide receiver and running back. Nick Tampone caught 17 passes for 384 yards and three touchdowns last season. Dave Troutman caught a touchdown pass in the South Jersey final.
Running back Brian Abbey rushed for 317 yards on 78 carries last season. He will get the more this season.
Southern relied primarily on its defense the past two seasons. That won't be the case this year.
"Our offense has to score," Donohue said. "We're not going to hold people down like we did before."
Nose guard Brett Cox is one of the few returnees on defense. He blocked two punts, one for a touchdown, last season.
PLAYOFF APPEARANCES: 7
LAST APPEARANCE: 2008
PLAYOFF RECORD: 3-6
LEAGUE/GROUP: Shore Conference American Division/South Jersey Group IV
COACH: Chuck Donohue (198-137-4,
2008 RECORD: 10-2
2009 PREDICTION: Spoiler:
Rams need their inexperienced players to mature quickly.
THE GROUND GAME:
Brian Abbey showed promise and rushed for 317 yards last season.
Brian Abbey, Sr., RB/DE, 5-9, 180; Brett Cox, Sr., RB/DL, 5-11, 190; Nick Tampone, Sr., WR/DB, 5-11, 170;
Dave Troutman, Sr., WR, 5-11, 175; Rob Boyle, Jr., OL/DL, 6-0, 205; C.J. Kaszuba, Sr., OL, 6-2, 265.
Mike Balak, Sr., QB/DB, 6-3, 215; Mike Bush, Sr., QB/DB, 5-10, 160; Billy Shimko, Jr., RB/DB, 5-10, 165; T.J. Ballisimo, So., RB, 5-10, 140; Alec Morris, So., WR/CB, 6-0, 170; Christian Bok, Sr., WR, 5-11, 180; Brian Gesicki, Sr., TE, 5-11, 185; Rob Sinopoli, Sr., OL, 5-10, 220; Alex Birty, Sr., OL, 5-10, 175;
Kevin Westburg, Sr., OL, 6-0, 220; Eric McMahon, Jr., LB, 5-9, 190; Jackman Bush, So., LB, 5-10, 175; Frank Pickel, Sr., TE, 6-0, 190; Marc Kozen, Sr., TE, 6-2, 220.
Southern Regional's schedule
Sept. 12 at Toms River East, 7 p.m.
Sept. 18 Brick Memorial, 7 p.m.
Oct. 2 at Freehold Township, 7 p.m.
Oct. 9 Jackson Memorial, 7 p.m.
Oct. 16 at Toms River East, 7 p.m.
Oct. 23 Manalapan, 5:30 p.m.
Oct. 30 Old Bridge, 7 p.m.
Nov. 6 at Howell, 7 p.m.
Nov. 26 at Barnegat, 10 a.m.