By Phil Anastasia
Training camp confidential: Cedar Creek
Coach: Tim Watson
Last year: 8-2, won share of Cape National (with St. Augustine and Bridgeton), lost to Camden in first round of SJ 2 tournament
Schedule: Cedar Creek (Sept. 6), bye, Buena, at Holy Spirit, Bridgeton, bye, Oakcrest, at Lower Cape May, at Middle Twp., Pleasantville, St. Augustine (Thanksgiving)
Player to watch: Junior WR/DB Ahmir Mitchell (pictured). The 6-3, 205-pound Mitchell is one of the state's most highly recruited players in the class of 2016. He has offers from Florida State, Penn State and Michigan, among other programs. It's a measure of Mitchell's versatility that Florida State projects him as WR, Michigan as a DB and Virginia as a RB. He's the brother of former Cedar Creek star Damon Mitchell, now a redshirt freshman at Arkansas. Ahmir Mitchell will play mostly safety this season on defense but will likely to used in a variety of roles on offense -- WR, RB, Wildcat QB.
Outlook: Under Watson, Cedar Creek has developed into a small-school power right from the start of the program. The Pirates are 22-9 in their first three seasons. This year's seniors are the first class to play four seasons of varsity football. The PIrates have a lot of experience, especially up front. Their top lineman is 6-2, 320-pound senior nose tackle Felton "Trey" Blackwell, who has an offer from UConn. The offensive line is experienced and led by senior center Chris Lynch (6-3, 275) as well as seniors Krisha Guerra (6-0, 240) and Jayson Williams (6-2, 260). Other key veterans include senior RB Isa Willis (5-11, 200), senior DBs Gary Voss (5-9, 165) and Zach Newman (5-9. 175), senior OL.LB Angelo Williams (6-0, 215), senior RB/LB J.B. Burell (6-0, 195) and senior TE/LB Nate Pauls (6-2, 220). Cedar Creek likely will feature some key young players as well, including sophomore QB Jesse Milza and sophomore DB Bo Melton (5-11, 165), the son of former Absegami and Rutgers star Gary Melton Sr. and brother of former Cedar Creek star Gary Melton Jr.
Fast fact: Cedar Creek can draw motivation from opposite ends of the spectrum in looking back at its last two games: a 48-0 loss to Camden in the SJ tournament and a 33-0 win over St. Augustine Prep in a Thanksgiving game that gave the Pirates a share of the Cape National title.
Quote: "That loss to Camden made us mad. We're determined to show we're a better team than that," Mitchell said.
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