By Phil Anastasia
Last year: 11-1 (S.J. Group 3 and WJFL Royal champions)
Coach: Sal Marchese (155-54-1 entering 20th season)
Fast fact: Delsea won its final 10 games last season
Opener: Home Sept. 13 vs. Camden
Player to watch: Senior quarterback/defensive back Rob Rolle (pictured). A Villanova recruit as a defensive back, Rolle will switch to quarterback for the Crusaders this season after playing running back as a junior and wide receiver as a sophomore. The 6-1, 175-pound athlete is a break-away threat as a runner.
Outlook: Delsea looms as a heavy favorite in the WJFL Royal Division and in S.J. 3 as well -- although Shore Conference teams Manasquan and Barnagat will challenge along with Northern Burlington and Burlington Township. Delsea could be explosive in the backfield as Rob Rolle moves to QB from RB, giving the Crusaders another' break-away threat. Senior RB Isaiah Spencer, a transfer from Vineland, could be an impact player. Senior FB Rob Hooks ran for 1,268 yards last season, including 203 in the sectional-title game victory over NBC. Senior two-way interior lineman Dakota Brovero anchors both fronts, while senior TE/LB Scott Parker is a seasoned veteran. Other key veterans include senior OL/DL Vic DeFrance, senior TE/DE Phil Sampson and senior OL Chris Caudill. Junior kicker Brondon Deckert was 41-for-44 in PATs last season. Senior RB/DB Brendan Slade is another player to watch.
Schedule: The Crusaders' opener was supposed to be Saturday, Sept. 14 at Camden. But the installation of the new turf at Farnham Park likely won't be finished in time for that game, so the opener has been switched to Friday, Sept. 13 at Delsea. The next week, Delsea hosts Moorestown, which handed the Crusaders their only loss last season. A big game looms Oct. 14 at Kingsway, an old Tri-County Royal rival and a serious S.J. Group 4 contender. After the Kingsway game, Delsea likely will be favored by three touchdowns or more in its final five games -- on paper, anyway, for whatever that is worth. With no Thanksgiving Day game, the Crusaders play nine straight weeks without a bye.
Quote: "Nobody wants to be the senior class that goes out soft," Rolle said. "We want to step up and keep the tradition going at Delsea."
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