By Phil Anastasia
Training camp confidential: Camden Catholic
Coach: Nick Strom
Last year: 4-6, third in WJFL Constitution, lost to Bishop Eustace 16-14 in first round of Non-Public 2 tournament
Schedule: Cumberland, at Gloucester Catholic, Woodrow Wilson, Deptford, at Camden, bye, at Highland, Delran, at Bishop Eustace, at Paul VI (Thanksgiving)
Player to watch: Senior WR/DB Carl Garnes (pictured). The 6-0, 180-pound Garnes started as a sophomore at defensive back for a Camden Catholic team that went 7-4, reached the Non-Public 3 semifinals and was ranked No. 1 in South Jersey for a time. He missed the first half of last season with a hip injury and wasn't 100 percent until the end of the season. He's worked hard in the off-season, improving his strength and conditioning. He can bench-press 235 pounds and squat 315 pounds. He says he's determined to make up for lost time after missing much of his junior season. "We're under the radar as a team and I feel like I'm under the radar too," Garnes said.
Outlook: Camden Catholic was moved down to the Royal Division in the WJFL's re-alignment and the Irish will have an opportunity to rebuild under Strom, their third coach in three years, against a less-challenging schedule. Strom, a former quarterback at Palmyra, said he wants to build some continuity and stability in a program that has been roiled by coaching change in the last five years. Camden Catholic has an array of talented skill-position players led by Garnes and including junior QB/DB Tyree Rodgers (6-2, 175), senior RB/DB Jahier Franklin (5-9, 160), junior RB/DB Jamal Parker (5-9, 160), junior WR/DB Anthony Richardson (5-10, 160), junior RB/DB Jordan Jefferson (5-8, 160) and senior WR/DB Malik Johnson (5-10, 160). The kicking game should be strong with senior Everett Minchew, a first-team all-conference kicker last season. Junior Joe Hahn (5-9, 155) also could be a factor at QB and in the secondary. The key will be development of the offensive and defensive lines. Strom said two seniors who are out for football for the first time, TE/DE Adam Giordano (6-3, 215) and TE/DE Colin Wharton (6-3, 210) could be factors up front.
Fast fact: Camden Catholic has had four head coaches since 2010 (Rick Brown, Gil Brooks, Dennis Scuderi Sr., and Nick Strom)
Quote: "We're underdogs. Nobody believes in us. But that's OK. We think we're going to surprise some people," Garnes said.
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