Ventnor's Dustin Thomas catching on at new position for Villanova football team - High School Football

Ventnor's Dustin Thomas catching on at new position for Villanova football team - High School Football

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A ranking of teams in the Cape-Atlantic League; Colonial Conference; Burlington County League; Olympic Conference and Tri-County Conference. Also ranked are Shore Conference teams that compete for South Jersey titles. Rankings selected by The Press high school sports staff based on staff observation, research and interviews with players and coaches.

1. Paul VI (1) 4-0

2. Holy Spirit (3) 4-1

3. Atlantic City (5) 2-1

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9. Eastern (UR) 4-0

10. St. Augustine Prep (10) 4-0

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Ventnor's Dustin Thomas catching on at new position for Villanova football team

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Posted: Saturday, August 25, 2012 1:15 am | Updated: 2:34 am, Sat Aug 25, 2012.

VILLANOVA, Pa. - St. Augustine Prep had a package in its offensive playbook while Dustin Thomas was there that involved the record-setting quarterback running routes and catching passes.

The Hermits never ran those plays - perhaps because Thomas was busy throwing a southern New Jersey-record 69 career touchdown passes.

"I think the coaches were always scared," Thomas said with a laugh last week.

Perhaps they shouldn't have been.

Thomas moved from quarterback to receiver late last season as a redshirt freshman at Villanova University, and he already has drawn praise from teammates and coaches in training camp this year as the Wildcats look to rebound from a 2-9 season. They open their season Friday against Temple at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.

"Dustin's very athletic," Wildcats coach Andy Talley said last week. "He can really run. He's very fast. He's got real good ball awareness. He knows our offense. ... So far he looks like he's going to be able to get some reps and get on the field for us."

Thomas said he hasn't felt out of place at receiver. The 6-foot, 200-pounder worked in the offseason with Villanova senior receiver Norman White, a St. Joseph graduate, and former St. Augustine Prep offensive coordinator Dale Amos, who played for the Indianapolis Colts.

"It's surprisingly comfortable," said Thomas, a 20-year-old from Ventnor. "It's felt natural out there. It's tough sometimes when you're looking at quarterbacks and, you know, you used to be there. But it's really just a role switch. You're used to throwing and now you're catching the ball. I've done it when I was younger, just never really on a competitive team."

A rough first year

Thomas was thrust into a tough situation at quarterback last season. He found out shortly before the season opener that White would miss the entire season with a foot injury. And the Wildcats already were rebuilding with a young roster two years after winning the national title in the NCAA's Football Championship Subdivision.

Thomas completed 43-of-80 passes for 412 yards with two touchdowns and six interceptions. He also missed four games after suffering a shoulder injury in Week 2 against Towson. When Talley decided to replace him at quarterback, though - Chris Poloney is the starter this season - the coach didn't want Thomas' athleticism to go to waste.

Thomas embraced the change, even though it hasn't been easy.

"I know I'm fast, so that's one thing that I do have," he said. "I'm still working on getting off presses and stuff, using my hands, just small things that you would pick up as a receiver growing up, working your hands or how to cut."

He does have one advantage though over players who have been receivers for their entire careers.

"You know what the quarterback's looking for," Thomas said. "It's kind of like you have a little bit of, telekinesis might be the word, where you can kind of read what they're thinking because you've played that position before. So you know where they're going to look, or you know where they would want you to place yourself within the zone or man."

Playing time is there for the taking at receiver. White and Joe Price are the starters, but Dorian Wells' broken foot and Jamal Abdur-Rahman's season-long suspension leave Buena Regional graduate Kenny Miles as the only other receiver who had more than eight receptions last year (Miles had 13).

Thomas also could play on special teams - something he said has been a bit of an adjustment in practice after playing quarterback for so long.

"When we do special teams and other types of defensive drills, you're involved with that, so you're not sitting on the sideline drinking water," he said with a smile.

Another change is that Thomas went from taking every snap to only having the ball thrown his way a few times - even in practice. But he's working hard to get the ball in his hands more often.

"He looks good when he's out there running his routes," said defensive tackle Antoine Lewis, a Mainland Regional graduate. "He's working on the little things and hopefully (will) get some playing time."

Contact Jason Mazda:


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Cape-Atlantic League National Conference

School Conference Overall
St. Augustine Prep 7-0 8-2
Bridgeton 7-1 8-3
Cedar Creek 6-1 7-2
Buena Regional 5-3 5-5
Ocean City 3-4 4-5
Middle Township 2-5 3-6
Vineland 2-6 2-7
Pleasantville 1-6 2-7
Lower Cape May Regional 0-7 0-8

Cape-Atlantic League American Conference

School Conference Overall
Holy Spirit 7-0 10-0
St. Joseph 6-1 9-1
Millville 6-2 7-3
Hammonton 5-2 6-3
Atlantic City 3-4 4-5
Absegami 2-5 4-5
Oakcrest 1-6 2-7
Mainland Regional 1-6 3-6
Egg Harbor Township 1-6 2-7

Shore Conference A South

School Conference Overall
Jackson Memorial 6-1 7-3
Brick Township 5-2 8-3
Toms River South 5-2 7-3
Brick Memorial 4-3 6-4
Lacey Township 3-4 5-5
Southern Regional 3-4 4-5
Toms River East 1-5 3-6
Toms River North 0-6 1-8

Shore Conference B South

School Conference Overall
Barnegat 5-1 9-1
Central Regional 5-2 5-4
Monsignor Donovan 4-2 4-5
Lakewood 4-3 6-3
Jackson Liberty 3-4 4-5
Manchester Township 3-3 3-6
Pinelands Regional 1-5 1-8
Pt. Pleasant Boro 1-6 1-9

West Jersey Football League Royal Division

School Conference Overall
Camden 4-0 9-1
Delsea Regional 4-1 9-2
Woodrow Wilson 3-1 4-5
Bishop Eustace 1-4 5-4
Cumberland Regional 1-4 1-8
Deptford 1-4 1-8

West Jersey Football League Classic Division

School Conference Overall
Pennsville 5-0 8-2
Salem 4-1 5-5
Gloucester 3-2 3-6
Clayton 1-3 3-6
Pitman 1-3 2-7
Wildwood 0-5 2-5

Scoring leaders

Name School Total points
Lamont Harris St. Augustine Prep 126
Stefon Bowman Bridgeton 110
David Hood Absegami 108
Christian Tutela Lacey Township 100
Taalib Gerald Holy Spirit 96
Cappadonna Miller Bridgeton 92
Ryquell Armstead Millville 90
Rob Ennis Millville 90
Cody Sampson St. Joseph 84

Rushing touchdowns

Name School TDs
Lamont Harris St. Augustine Prep 21
Stefon Bowman Bridgeton 16
David Hood Absegami 15
Taalib Gerald Holy Spirit 14
Ryquell Armstead Millville 13

Passing touchdowns

Name School TDs
Tom Kelly Lacey Township 19
Jose Tabora St. Augustine Prep 19
Jamir Prevard Atlantic City 16
Ty Mindish Mainland Regional 13

Receiving touchdowns

Name School TDs
Christian Tutela Lacey Township 14
Austin Francisco St. Augustine Prep 12
Alex Padovani Hammonton 7
Isiah Graves Atlantic City 7
Jim Brennan Mainland Regional 7
LaDarrell Dixon Oakcrest 7

Field goal leaders

Name School Number Longest in yards
Jon Kubricki Pinelands Regional 5 36
Ryan Ulrich Barnegat 4 37
Joe Stadnicki Ocean City 4 38
Franco Rifici Holy Spirit 4 27
Alex Padovani Hammonton 3 30
Ryan Davis Cumberland Regional 3 47
Kyle Snow St. Augustine Prep 3 32
Mike McGarry
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James Clark
  • James Clark
  • Assistant Soccer Coach at St. Augustine Prep
  • James Clark has been writing about soccer for various media outlets, including The Press of Atlantic City, for 15 years. The Northfield resident coached travel teams in the South Jersey Soccer League for a decade and is currently an assistant soccer coach at St. Augustine Prep. Clark's blog will appear three times a week and daily during this summer's World Cup.