Sunday, December 28, 2014

Countdown to kickoff: Gloucester

Gloucester

Countdown to kickoff: Gloucester

Gloucester

Last year: 7-3 (5-0 in WJFL Classic)

Coach: Ed Malone: First year

Fast fact: Gloucester won 180 games in 27 seasons under former coach Leon Harris

Opener: Sept. 13 home vs. Pitman

Player to watch: Senior running back Ben Boyer (pictured). The 5-7, 165-pound Boyer is on the verge of become Camden County's all-time leading rusher. He enters this season with 3,596 career yards and needs 727 to pass former Bishop Eustace star Mike DiMaggio (4,322 in career ending in 2006) for tops in Camden Count history. With 43 career touchdowns, Boyer needs 20 to pass former Eastern star Adam Taliaferro (62 in 1999( and former Paul VI star Jon Grimes (62 in 2007) for first place in Camden County history in career touchdowns. Boyer also is a top defender as a linebacker.

Outlook: The Lions are a program in transition with a new coach in former player and assistant Ed Malone taking the place of veteran coach Leon Harris. Malone was an assistant for 10 years under Harris and says the transition has been "seamless." Gloucester should contend with rival Pennsville for the WJFL Classic title. Last season, the Lions won the title thanks to a 48-42 victory over the Eagles. Boyer gives the Lions a veteran running back and linebacker as well as a game-breaker. There's some experience up front with seniors Allen Westenberger and Jason Mull as well as senior TE/DT Andrew Boulden. Senior Mike Coxe is a veteran FB/LB and senior Justin McCleery is an experienced WR. The secondary is young but talented. Two sophomores to watch are two-way backs Justin Graves and Vince DiGiacomo.

Schedule: After the opener, the Lions are on the road for three important games: Schalick (Sept. 20), Salem (Sept. 28) and Glassboro (Oct. 5). One key to the schedule could be the status of Wildwood's season. Gloucester is scheduled to play at Wildwood Oct. 25, after a bye. But if Wildwood doesn't field a team this season (a real possibility), Gloucester could be looking at a 21-day gap between its Oct. 11 game against Clayton and a Nov. 1 game at Woodstown. The WJFL Classic could turn on Gloucester's Nov. 8 home game vs. Pennsville. Gloucester finishes the regular season with its annual Thanksgiving Day game against Gloucester Catholic.

Quote: "The kids around me," Boyer said of the secret to his success. "They all are tough kids and we've been together a long time. As a senior you want to go out with a bang."

-- Follow @PhilAnastasia on Twitter

Phil Anastasia Inquirer Columnist
About this blog
Born and raised in South Jersey, Phil Anastasia prefers standing on the sidelines at high school football games on Friday nights to sitting in the press box at Eagles games on Sunday afternoons. He’s a graduate of Rowan University with a degree in English. Reach Phil at panastasia@phillynews.com.

Phil Anastasia Inquirer Columnist
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