Here's a look at the Red Raiders:
Last season: 10-2, won South Jersey Group 1 title.
Coach: Glenn Howard (286-62 entering his 31st season).
8/31: at West Deptford
9/8: at Haddon Heights
9/15: at Penns Grove
10/19: at Audubon
Outlook: The Red Raiders look primed to make a strong run at another WJFL Memorial and South Jersey Group 1 title. They've won 19 S.J. titles overall, including two in a row and three in the last four seasons. The quest for S.J. title No. 20 will be led by a sturdy defense.
Paulsboro returns eight starters on the defensive side from last year's sectional champions. Leading the way will be senior linemen Robert Glocker, Santino Morina and Douglas Blue-Eli, and senior linebacker Anthony Morina. Glocker (603, 280) is one of South Jersey's top two-way linemen. He had 50 tackles last season. Blue-Eli (6-3, 310) had 79 tackles, including 10 for losses. Santino Morina (6-1, 195) is a top passer rusher as a DE who registered 10 sacks. He also is a top TE who caught 16 passes for 276 yards and 4 TDs. Anthony Morina (6-0, 190) is an instinctive LB who made 130 tackles.
Other key defensive players include junior WR/DB Jacob Perez-Eli (5-10, 175), senior OL/DL Austin Mooney (5-11, 240), senior RB/LB TyHere Dowd (6-2, 190) and junior OL/DL Kade Stevens (6-0, 220).
The offense should feature RBs Dowd and sophomore Bhayshul Tuten (5-10, 180), who could be an emerging star. "If he stays healthy the next three years, he's going to be special," Howard said. Juniors Gabe Onorato (5-10, 165) and Nick Pellegrini (6-3, 180) are the top candidates at QB, with either player capable of contributing at another position. Junior WR Jamel Miles-Benjamin (6-1, 195), who caught 31 passes last season, and sophomore OL/DL Tino Savaiinaea (6-0, 240) are younger players to watch.
Schedule analysis: The Red Raiders are looking at a major change out of the gate, as they'll open with an Aug. 31 visit to West Deptford, their traditional Thanksgiving-weekend rival. Usually, one or both of those teams are coming off playoff games and preparing for the sectional finals when they meet. This time, it will be on the last day of August, at the start of the long season.
"It's different circumstances, that's for sure," Howard said. "But we're looking forward to it."
In addition to WJFL Memorial Division foes, Paulsboro will have interesting cross-over games at Penns Grove on Sept. 15 and home vs. Sterling on Sept. 28. Penns Grove and Paulsboro met in last year's S.J. 1 final, with the Red Raiders scoring a 34-24 victory. They could meet again in this year's state tournament as well, and perhaps in the final again. Sterling is an old Colonial Conference rival that traditionally has played tough games with Paulsboro.
Playoff prospects: There's no such thing as a sure thing in high school sports, but it's hard to imagine the Red Raiders' not making another run at another sectional title, barring a rash of injuries. Howard is one of the best ever to walk the sidelines in South Jersey, especially when it comes to getting the most of his players and getting them to play their best in the biggest games.