By Phil Anastasia
Training camp confidential: Hammonton
Coach: Pete Lancetta
Last season: 6-4, lost to eventual champion Shawnee by 10-7 score in first round of SJ 4 tournament
Schedule: Kingsway, at Washington Twp., at Pennsauken, Cherry Hill West, Clearview, at Moorestown, Delsea, Williamstown, at Timber Creek (no Thanksgiving game)
Player to watch: Senior Nick Carnesale (pictured). The 6-1, 260-pound Carnesale is a four-year varsity player. Lancetta says Carnesale "might be the best lineman I've ever coached." That's saying something considering that Lancetta has won 208 games at Hammonton, building one of South Jersey's best programs in large part because of the Blue Devils' powerful line play. Carnesale, a two-way tackle, has an offer from West Point but has yet to make a college decision. Monmouth, Penn and Villanova also are involved in his recruiting processs. Carnesale will play an especially important role for Hammonton this season as the Blue Devils are a young team with a loaded sophomore class.
Outlook: This is a season of change for Hammonton as the Blue Devils have jumped to the WJFL after years as a member of the Cape-Atlantic League. Hammonton will compete in the WJFL National with powers such as Timber Creek and Delsea and faces a daunting out-of-division schedule that includes Group 5 teams Washington Twp. and Williamstown. Hammonton has a corps of solid seniors that includes quarterback Jon Tripoletti, who passed for 781 yards and 10 TDs last season, as well as RB/DBs Tyler Armor and Gary Deanley, all-purpose player Kelvin Rivera and WR/DE Dylan Mento, who is recuperating from an off-season knee injury. Top juniors include LB Gary Bernard and two-way lineman Miles Sampson. The strength of the program could be the sophomore class, which includes top prospects such as WR/DB Victor Solis, lineman Chris Matro, all-purpose Malachi Winters, LB/FB Matt Zein and RB/DB Cashmere Phillips, a highly-touted transfer from St. Augustine Prep. "A lot will depend on how those young players develop," Lancetta said. "We could have 5-6 sophomores out there for us at any time."
Big change: Hammonton has played cross-town rival St. Joseph in an annual Thanksgiving weekend game every year since 1962. That series ended when Hammonton moved to the WJFL, although there is some speculation the rivalry could be renewed if the Cape-Atlantic merges with the WJFL in a couple of years.
Quote: "I like the fact that people aren't expecting much for us," Carnesale said. "I like that we're under the radar. I think we can surprise some people."
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