Here is a look at the Hermits:
Last year: 5-5
Coach: Pete Lancetta (5-5 at St. Augustine; 215-65-2 at Hammonton)
8/31 State College Area (Pa.)
9/14: St. Joseph
9/28: at Ocean City
10/5: at Rancocas Valley
10/12: Holy Spirit
10/19: at Cherokee
10/26: at Williamstown
The Hermits are a lot more comfortable and stable as they begin their second season under Lancetta. Last season was a whirlwind, with Lancetta taking control of the program in late May after the stunning departures of head coach Mark Reardon and top assistant Chalie Roman earlier that month. In addition, star quarterback Josh Zamot and star running back Kyle Dobbins both transferred to other schools last summer, adding to the disruption around the program. This year is different. Lancetta, one of the top coaches in South Jersey history, says he is far more comfortable after a year at the school, and the players notice the change in atmosphere.
"It's just a lot more settled," said standout senior linebacker/tight end Joe Bonczek. A Princeton recruit, Bonczek (6-foot-2, 220 pounds) made 119 tackles last season and leads a defense that also features junior lineman Isaiah Raikes (6-2, 290), who has offers from Baylor, Louisville, Duke and Wake Forest. Senior LB Shane Quast (6-2, 210) is another top defender. Senior DB/WR Jaylen DeCoteau (6-0, 185) has committed to Kent State. Senior DB/WR Sincere Rhea (5-11, 175) is one of South Jersey's fastest players, a track star in the hurdles.
The offense will be led by senior QB Chris Allen (6-2, 175), who threw for 1,211 yards and 6 TDs last season, and senior RB True Robinson (5-9, 180), a tough inside runner. One key for the Hermits will be the development of the offensive line, which is likely to feature just one senior in Justin Mirenda (6-0, 250) but has a promising sophomore tackle in Jake Ketschek (6-4, 285).
The Hermits moved to the WJFL American, so they face a grueling slate of division games with home battles with defending SJ 5 and SJ 4 champs Lenape and Shawnee in September as well as road games at Cherokee and Williamstown at the end of October. The schedule starts with a Aug. 31 home matchup with State College (Pa.), a 6-A power in Penn State's home town. Next year, St. Augustine will play at State College in a road trip that is scheduled to include a Penn State game. The Hermits also face challenges in cross-over games with old Cape-Atlantic non-public rivals St. Joseph and Holy Spirit. The Sept. 14 home game with St. Joseph looks like a war between two of South Jersey's Top 5 teams, and the Oct. 12 visit to Holy Spirit has added intrigue as both Reardon and Roman are on the Spartans' staff.
The Hermits will make the Non-Public 4 field since every team in that group will make the tournament this season. Their hope, as always, is to get a high seed and play a winnable home game before the monumental task of playing one of the North Jersey superpower programs.
DeCoteau is a speedy playmaker who had four interceptions last season and caught 11 passes for 254 yards and a pair of TDs. He had offers from Army, Navy and Western Michigan before committing to Kent State in late July. Former SJ standout defensive backs Jamal Parker and Elvin Hines play for Kent State. DeCoteau, who lives in Williamstown, dreams of becoming an FBI agent. "They want to help me get that dream," he said of Kent State officials.