Countdown to Kickoff: Highland

 

By Phil Anastasia

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Highland

Last season (4-6, 2-3 in WJFL Diamond Division)

Coach: Craig Stinson (10-30 entering 5th season)

Opener: at Woodstown, Sept. 13

Fast fact: Highland last season qualified for the playoffs for just the second time in the history of the program

Player to watch: Fred Morrison (pictured). The 6-0, 225-pound senior fullback is the key to the Tartans' Wing-T attack. He ran for 885 yards (5.5 yard average) and 11 TDs last season.

Outlook: Highland got off to a 4-1 start last season before losing its last five games. Still, the Tartans qualified for the S.J. Group 3 playoffs and were competitive in a first-round loss to evential champion Delsea, losing 28-7. Highland hopes to build on last season and contend for the WJFL Diamond Division title (although Penns Grove looms as the favorite with Glassboro and Woodstown in the mix) and qualify for the playoffs again. The Tartans have a talented, experienced backfield led by Morris, a classic fullback with good feet for a big man. He's not as big or fast as West Deptford's Gerald Owens but has some of the same traits. Senior Devante Parker and junior Chase Hill are speedy halfbacks. Junior QB Mark Gillis saw a lot of action last season. The OL is led by seniors Dan Julia and Jordan Warren as well as junior Kevin Smith. Gillis is a top LB and the team's top returning tackler. Senior DE Jacorey Williams is a another key defensive player.

Schedule: Highland plays nine weeks in a row, with no bye and no Thanksgiving Day game. The opener will be key, as Woodstown beat Highland in last season's first game. If this season is going to be different, the Tartans can establish that early by going into Woodstown and finding a way to win against a solid division opponent. There's a rough stretch at the end with consecutive games against Glassboro (home, Oct. 25), Delsea (home, Nov. 1) and Penns Grove (away, Nov. 9.

Quote: "It made us think, 'This is possible,'" Morrisson said of last season's early succes and the playoff berth. "This season, we're going to go even farther and prove people wrong."

-- Follow @PhilAnastasia on Twitter

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