By Phil Anastasia
St. Augustine Prep
Last year: 8-2 (first place in Cape National)
Coach: Mark Reardon (8-2 entering second season)
Fast fact: In the Hermits' last three playoff appearances, they've lost to North Jersey powers Don Bosco Prep (42-14 in 2012), Seton Hall Prep (49-14 in 2009) and Bergen Catholic (42-0 in 2008)
Opener: Sept. 13 at Middle Township
Player to watch: Senior OT Mike McGrath (pictured). The 6-6, 310-pounder is the leader of a strong and seasoned OL that will be key for the Hermits, given the inexperience at QB and RB. McGrath has an offer from Monmouth and has draw recruiting interest from several Ivy League programs.
Outlook: It's tough to get a good read on the Hermits because they play in the Cape National, which is a thick layer below the Cape American. SAP belongs in the Cape American, both as a school and as a football program. But when CAL officials revamped its alignment before the 2012 season, SAP was coming off a couple of tough seasons and ended up in the National. Things will change when the CAL realigns again next year. SAP looms as the heavy favorite in the CAL National. The Hermits have a solid OL led by senior Mike McGrath and junior John O'Brien. Senior WR Austin Francisco is a returning all-conference player who had 24 catches for 388 yards last season. The defense should be sturdy and led by senior LB Tim Kennelly, senior DL Justin Welsh and senior DB Ryan Piscitelli and junior DN R.J. D'Amico. The key for the Hermits will be the development of their young players. This is a program on the rise and the emergence of players such as sophomore QB Jose Tabora, junior RB Lamont Harris, freshman RB Cashmir Phillips and freshman WR Brandon Outlaw will be important for this season, and the future. One thing about the Hermits' schedule is that it should allow the younger players to develop and enjoy some success before the program steps up its level of competition next season and beyond
The schedule: The first four games are against Middle Township, Lower Cape May, Vineland and Ocean City. Bridgeton, which probably is the second-best team (on paper, anyway) in the CAL National, visits Oct. 18. The game to circle on the calendar will be Nov. 1 at home against rival St. Joseph. SAP also hosts Cedar Creek in the regular-season finale on Nov. 27, the night before Thanksgiving.
Quote: "We've got a lot of young guys but they are working hard and blending in with the older guys," Francisco said.
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