Football preview: Shawnee

Shawnee went 6-4 in each of the last two seasons. The Renegades made the Group 4 playoffs each year.

That's pretty good.

But it's not good enough, according to Shawnee coach Tim Gushue.

"The tradition we have here, it's not good enough just to make the post-season," Gushue said. "These guys this year, they want to do more than that."

Shawnee looms as the favorite in the WJFL National Division, although Pennsauken and Winslow Township could be threats. The Renegades also will challenge cross-district rival Cherokee as well as the likes of Oakcrest, Pennsauken, Williamstown, Absegami, EHT and Toms River North for the SJ Group 4 crown. 

Shawnee might have the best offensive line in South Jersey, led by seniors Bob Bradley, who has committed to Tulane, and Tom Smith along with Jesse Osborne and Rob Beachy.

The Renegades will run the football with senior RB Kyle Wigley and junior RB Rob D'Orio, who could be poised for a break-out season. One key will be the development of a quarterback, with athletic senior Jamie Jackopin likely to take the reins of the Renegade offense.

Gushue said the Renegades were a little frustrated by the last two seasons. Before that, Shawnee won back-to-back South Jersey Group 3 titles behind sensational RB Chris LaPierre.

But 2009 and 2010 were a little bit of a step back for Shawnee.

"I felt like we were a play here or a play there, or an injury here or there from being a 7-3 or 8-2 kind of team," Gushue said. "This year, we might not have the star power. But I think we're a little more solid across the board and that might end up in creating a little better product."

Expectations are high for Shawnee. The Renegades have nearly 60 juniors and seniors and those guys are planning on a big season.

They'll get a big challenge early as they face Pennsauken, which features quarterback Manny Cortez and wide-out Amar Williams, on opening night.

"I think we've got a chance to be pretty good," Gushue said.

-- Phil Anastasia