Football preview: Haddonfield

Last season might have just been a warm-up.

That seems a little hard to believe, since Haddonfield set a school-record for victories in an 11-1 season and won the first sectional title since the NJSIAA instituted the playoff system in 1974.

But this year's Bulldogs are capable of surpassing that SJ Group 2 championship season.

"We're looking to go 12-0," said Haddonfield two-way lineman Jim Cashman, who has committed to Boston College.

A 12-0 record is way, way down the line. Haddonfield coach Frank DeLano and his senior leaders knows they need to take things slowly, building this season one practice and one game at a time.

But the Bulldogs are capable of big things, especially with conference and Group 2 rival West Deptford in a little bit of a down cycle (well, by the Eagles' standards, anyway.)

Haddonfield returns lots of athletes who made big plays in big games. Cashman leads a line that on the defensive side includes talented and rangy ends Alex Walter and Jack Knecht (48 tackles).

Like Matt Porter last season, Knecht is moving from tight end to tackle on the offensive side.

The running game will be strong with Chris Dengler (896 yards, 7 TDs) along with fullback Rob Perkins, who doubles as a top linebacker.

Another top linebacker is Matt Bhaya (60 tackles, 7 sacks). He's also a play-maker on offense who will get the ball as a running back.

Bhaya, Perkins and Carson Stack form quite the foundation of the defense as linebackers. Andrew Augugliaro is a veteran defensive back.

The quarterback will be senior Dan Ciemniecki, who was an all-conference player as a defensive back.

"I like our experience and our demeaner," DeLano said. "These guys love to play football. They love playing together. They play the right way and they play as a team."

Haddonfield's breakthrough success in 2010 has this year's team humming along with a high level of confidence. But DeLano has been around long enough to know that his team has to guard against complacency, especially with dangerous foes such as West Deptford and Paulsboro on the regular-season schedule.

"We can take confidence from it," DeLano said of last year's success. "We can take experience from it. But the slate is clean for every team. We're starting over just like everybody else."

-- Phil Anastasia