Offseason work paying off for Penns Grove's football team

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Penns Grove's Nick Elmer scrambles for a gain in a 36-0 win over Woodstown (Marc Narducci/Staff)

Penns Grove quarterback Nick Elmer says that the Red Devils quick start is due to the work that began last winter. The Red Devils are 4-0, which includes an opening night 36-18 victory over two-time defending South Jersey Group 1 champion Glassboro.

“We got so much bigger, stronger and faster from last year,” Elmer said. “We put a lot of work in the weight room.”

The Red Devils weren’t exactly small and slow last year, but they have simply improved.

And the 5-foot-9, 195-pound Elmer, who was bothered by an ankle injury that kept him out of three games last year, is the one running controls.

“He is one of the best football players around,” Penns Grove coach Kemp Carr said.

Last season Carr didn’t play Elmer on defense because he didn’t want to risk injury. This season Elmer is playing in the secondary and making an impact on both sides of the ball.

“He can certainly play football at the next level,” Carr said.

Elmer, a top student who was 40-4 as a wrestler, says that anything is on the table – football, wrestling, offense, defense.

Right now, his future plans can wait. Elmer is hoping that the Red Devils can compete for a South Jersey Group 1 title. Penns Grove has not won a sectional championship since the advent of NJSIAA playoffs in 1974.

Yet even though the goals are high, Elmer understands the competition in Group 1 this season is fierce.

“There are so many good teams,” he said. “Our goal now is to get better each week because there is so much we have to improve on.”

That might be the case, but it will be hard to convince Penns Grove’s previous opponents of that. The Red Devils have outscored their first four teams, 182-26.