One look at the home sideline shows how much St. Augustine Prep football has changed the past three years.
The school added new bleachers that sit more than 1,000 fans. Bleachers were also added to the visitor's side.
St. Augustine is a team to watch.
"We're going to see if we can get the whole student body to fill the bleachers up," Hermits quarterback Dustin Thomas said.
St. Augustine is the favorite to win the Cape-Atlantic League National Conference. The Hermits won the conference and a school record 10 games last season.
Thomas, his fellow seniors and coach Dennis Scuderi are the forces behind the revival.
They all arrived at St. Augustine in 2006.
"We were rookies together," Thomas said.
The Hermits were 2-8 in 2005, but they're 18-3 the past two seasons.
"It's kind of special being the class that brought the program back," Thomas said.
Thomas, a Ventnor resident, has started since he was a freshman. He often creates plays by scrambling from one side of the field to the other before running for a big gain or throwing to an open receiver.
The 6-foot-2, 193-pound Thomas threw for 1,437 yards and 20 touchdowns and ran for 592 yards and three touchdowns.
Several Division I schools are recruiting him.
"I'm going to play out the season and see what happens after that," Thomas said.
The quarterback leads an offense filled with talent.
Gabe Voumard (35 catches, 660 yards) is one of southern New Jersey's top receivers. Running back Darnell Laws ran for 518 yards and 10 touchdowns despite missing several games with a knee injury.
Voumard was also a force at defensive end, consistently pressuring opposing quarterbacks.
Linebackers Matt Piotrowicz and John Bowden also have plenty of experience.
The Hermits were a surprise last season. That won't be the case this season.
"Everybody knows about us now," Thomas said.
PLAYOFF APPEARANCES: 5
LAST APPEARANCE: 2008
PLAYOFF RECORD: 3-4
LEAGUE/GROUP: Cape-Atlantic League National Conference/State Non-Public IV
COACH: Dennis Scuderi (75-30, 11 seasons)
2008 RECORD: 10-1
2009 PREDICTION: Favorite. The Hermits won the conference behind quarterback Dustin Thomas last season. Thomas leads an impressive group of returnees, so big things are expected.
THE GROUND GAME:
Darnell Laws averaged 7.5 yards per carry last season.
Dustin Thomas, Sr., QB, 6-1, 190; Darnell Laws, Sr., RB/LB, 6-1, 205; Frank Albert, Sr., RB/DB, 6-0, 185; Jim Goodroe, Sr., WR/S, 6-0, 190; Matt Piotrowicz, Sr., FB/LB, 5-10, 185;
John Bowden, Sr., G/LB, 6-0, 210; Gabe Voumard, Sr., WR/DE, 6-3, 210;
Andrew Baumgartner, Jr., OT/DT, 6-1, 220;
Anthony Nelius, Sr., WR/DB, 5-10, 175;
Kris Rasso, Jr., G/LB, 6-0, 210; Chris Gough, Jr., P/K, 6-1, 153.
St. Augustine Prep Hermits schedule:
Sept. 11: Roman Catholic High School, 6 p.m.
Sept. 18: Bridgeton, 7 p.m.
Sept. 25: Lower Cape May Regional, 7 p.m.
Oct. 2: Red Lion Christian Academy, 7 p.m.
Oct. 16: at Middle Township, 7 p.m.
Oct. 23: St. Joseph, 7 p.m.
Oct. 30: at Pleasantville, 7 p.m.
Nov. 6: at Holy Spirit, 7 p.m.
Nov. 25: at Buena Regional, 7 p.m.