Another in a series of looks at South Jersey football teams in training camp.
Last year: 7-3
Coach: Tim Gushue (195-93-6 entering 30th season)
Conference outlook: One of the favorites (along with Pennsauken) in WJFL National Division
Playoff outlook: A contender (along with Hammonton, with Timber Creek as the favorite) in revamped SJ Group 4
Opener: Sept. 7 vs. Kingsway (first time the teams will play)
Given the strength of schedule, a total of 19 victories over the last three seasons is a sign of some good work by the Shawnee football team.
The Renegades have gone 6-4, 6-4 and 7-3 since the Chris LaPierre Era ended with a 12-0 record and the second straight SJ Group 3 title in 2008.
But this year's group of Shawnee seniors, who were in eighth grade when Shawnee won its last sectional title, plan to take the program back to an elite level in SJ football.
"It was tough last year to play in a (playoff) consolation game," said senior guard Chris Moran, the team's lone returning starter along the offensive line. "I expected more than that. We're planning on more than that this season."
Shawnee long has been known for its line play, especially on the offensive side. But this team might be more accomplished "on the edges," according to veteran coach Tim Gushue.
"One of the better groups of skill position guys we've had," said Gushue, who is entering his 30th season and has 195 career victories.
Gushue likes his offensive backfield with brothers Rob DiOrio, a senior, and Anthony DiOrio, a junior, along with senior Evan Wayns. The quarterback likely will be senior Andrew Bertolino.
"He's got a great arm," Gushue said. "He's going to do well."
The team has depth at tight end/wide receiver with veterans such as Jake Dean and Zach McHale, a top LB in Marc Yeager and a solid defensive backfield with Corey Munger, Kyle Borbi and the DiOrio brothers, among others.
A key could be the development of both lines. The Renegades took a blow early this summer when senior DL Zach Smeagal, who has committed to Division I Buffalo, was lost for the season with an injury.
Gushue has high hopes for the OL, with senior Jake Pisarcik moving to tackle from tight end. Pisarcik has drawn heavy recruiting interest from Coastal Carolina.
Reese Tursi, Pat Blair and Connor Flannery also should figure in the mix along the OL.
Shawnee looms as a favorite in the WJFL National, along with defending champion Pennsauken. Shawnee also should contend in what could be a loaded SJ 4 field that includes consensus preseason No. 1 Timber Creek as well as Hammonton, Moorestown, Lacey, Mainland and others.
"We're trying to do the ordinary things better than everybody else," Gushue said. "That's kind of our motto. If we do that, the scoreboard will reflect things in a positive way."
-- Phil Anastasia