Football: Storylines at start of preseason camps

 

Official workouts begin Monday for many South Jersey football teams although in truth most of these guys have been getting after it all summer.

But it's still a good time to take a look at some of the key storylines at the start of the preseason:

-- Timber Creek senior QB Devin Leary has a chance to set a couple of sensational passing marks: 10,000 career yards and 100 career touchdowns.

Both marks would be state records. Leary, a North Carolina State commit who is generating a lot of recruiting interest from Penn State after a terrific spring/summer of national showcase events, needs to throw for 3,191 yards this season to reach 10,000 yards for his career and to pass for 26 TDs to each 100 for his career.

Leary passed for state-record, single-season marks of 3,688 yards and 48 TDs in 2016, leading TC to a 12-0 record and a second straight SJ 4 title. He will operate behind an OL with 3 returning starts but will have a largely new receiving corps this season, likely led by seniors Deion Jennings, brother of Temple WR Adonis Jennings, and Michael Johnson, a transfer from Shawnee who sat out the 2016 season.

-- Timber Creek and Camden both will open the season Sept. 2 in the St. Louis area as part of a showcase event. The teams were scheduled to play each other this season but opted out of that game to give each an opportunity to travel to the Midwest and open the season vs. a team from from Missouri.

-- St. Augustine Prep, under new coach Pete Lancetta, will open the season Friday night Sept. 1 at Villanova vs. Malvern Prep.

-- Lancetta, who won 215 games in 26 seasons at Hammonton before spending the last two seasons as an assistant coach at Rowan University, takes over a SAP program that was rocked a bit by the surprise resignations in early of former head coach Mark Reardon as well as his top assistant, Chalie Roman.

SAP, which has won 26 games in a row against South Jersey foes and dominated area competition in 2016, also lost some key athletes as transfers but still projects as one of the top teams around thanks to the return of several top players as well as Lancetta's leadership.

-- Among the transfers who are likely to make an immediate impact is Temple recruit Kyle Dobbins, who moved from SAP to Timber Creek. Dobbins is a two-time, first-team All South Jersey running back.

In addition, third-team ASJ QB Josh Zamot left SAP for Holy Spirit. The dynamic Zamot, a dual-threat athlete, led SAP to a 9-1 record last season and showed himself to be one of SJ's top big-playmakers.

Amother key transfer is junior QB Nick Kargman, who left Pitman for Woodrow Wilson. The strong-armed Kargman is regarded as a likely scholarship athlete.

-- Kargman's transfer came soon before Pitman announced plans to cancel its varsity season. The Panthers, who don't have a senior on the roster, plans to play a JV schedule this season, according to coach Chris Thomas.

-- Among the major changes in group classifications this season: Timber Creek, which has won two straight SJ 4 titles, has moved down to SJ 3. The Chargers likely will battle perenniel power Delsea among others for SJ 3 supremacy.

Lenape, which lost to TC in the SJ 4 final last season, has moved up to SJ 5. The largest group looks stacked on paper with projected South Jersey Top 5 teams Millville -- the defending champion -- and Vineland along with Cherokee, Williamstown and a couple of dangerous Shore Conference teams among others.

-- Vineland coach Dan Russo said senior Nihym Anderson, a Maryland recruit as a DE/OLB, likely will plan some RB on offense this season, with junior Anthony Reyes replacing Anderson at TE.

Vineland also could get immediate impact from a pair of transfers from St. Joseph: senior RB/DB Tahjir Rease and junior RB/DB De'Andre Tull-Kennedy.

-- Millville returns several veterans from last season's SJ 5 champions including senior RB Clayton Scott, who ran for 1,722 yards and 15 TDs. Thanksgiving is a long way off but the annual Vineland-Millville game is shaping up as one of the most anticipated in the 120-plus-year history of South Jersey's oldest rivalry. Some folks even wonder if the teams might play back-to-back games -- the first on Thanksgiving, the next in the SJ 5 title game.

-- Delsea is likely to full commit to running the triple-option offense this season as former Clearview head coach Mark Deal, a master of that system, has joined the Crusaders' staff as an assistant coach.

-- Gloucester and Maple Shade will meet Sept. 2 on the Lions' field in a game that will fill both teams' schedules as they both were supposed to play Pitman this season.

-- Washington Township has just its fourth coach since the mid 1960s as former Salem star Lamont Robinson, who was the DC at Millville last season, takes over the Minutemen program.

Robinson replaces Mark Wechter, who resigned after 11 seasons. Other long-time WT coaches since the mid-1960s were Tom Brown and Tony DeLucas.

-- Like SAP, Camden Catholic has gone years since its last loss to a South Jersey team. The Irish are 26-4 in three seasons under coach Nick Strom, including a 26-1 mark against SJ foes.

CC has won 22 in a row against area teams. The last loss was 27-14 to Camden on Oct. 10, 2014 in a game attended by NJ governor Chris Christie.

-- Contact Phil Anastasia at panastasia@phillynews.com

-- Follow @PhilAnastasia on Twitter


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