By Phil Anastasia
The football teams at the three private schools in the Cape Atlantic League will have something in common next week: They are scrimmaging national powers from North Jersey.
St. Augustine Prep, which went 8-2 in its first season under former Villanova assistant Mark Reardon in 2012, will host defending Non-Public 4 state champion Paramus Catholic on Monday at 1 p.m.
Paramus Catholic, which is No. 4 in USA Today's preseason Super 25, features running back/defensive back Jabrill Peppers, a Michigan recruit rated as the No. 2 prospect in the country by Rivals.com. The Paladins have another Michigan recruit in 6-7, 320-pound Juwann Bushell-Beatty.
St. Augustine should be led by OT/DT Mike McGrath as well as WR Austin Francisco and LB Tim Kennelly. The Hermits will be a relatively inexperienced team.
"Our kids need to find out what it's like to compete against the best teams in the state," Reardon said. "No one rises to low expectations."
On Tuesday at 11, Holy Spirit will host St. Joseph of Montvale, the defending Non-Public 3 state champion that is No. 44 in USA Today's national rankings.
Holy Spirit was 8-4 last season under first-year coach John Iannucci. The Spartans won the Non-Public 2 state title, their third state championship in a row.
"It's going to be a good test for us to see where we stand," said Holy Spirit senior linebacker Jeff Steeb, who has an offer from Villanova.
Steeb, DT Ray Ellis -- who also has offers from Villanova and Delaware, among other programs -- and DB A.J. Dawson should lead one of South Jersey's top defenses.
The Spartans are a senior-heavy, experienced group, with T.J. Anderson back at QB and 1,000-yard rusher Taalib Gerald back at RB.
Iannucci said Holy Spirit is facing St. Joseph Montvale "to see where we are at and to see where we need to go to get the program to that level."
On Aug. 24 at 1, St. Joseph of Hammonton will travel to Ramsey, N.J., to face perenniel national power Don Bosco Prep.
St. Joseph is coming off a 10-1 season that included championships in the Cape Atlantic American Division as well as the state Non-Public 1 tournament.
The Wildcats will be fairly young this season, with a lot of juniors and sophomores in key spots. Senior RB Cody Sampson is a returning veteran but the key to the season could be the play of juniors such as QB/LB C.J. LaFragola (pictured) and RB/DB Rocco Ordille and sophomores such as twin DB/RBs Saleem and Aleem Horne and DE Chris Carey.
"It'll be nice to see how the big North Jersey teams play ball," LaFragola said of facing Don Bosco.
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