St. Joseph seeking out Cape challenges

Cody Sampson and the St. Joseph Wildcats welcome the challenge of playing larger schools. They won the Cape-Atlantic American Division title in 2012.
Cody Sampson and the St. Joseph Wildcats welcome the challenge of playing larger schools. They won the Cape-Atlantic American Division title in 2012. (MICHAEL S WIRTZ / Staff)
Posted: September 08, 2013

There are no soft spots on St. Joseph's schedule anymore.

The Wildcats like it that way.

"It's a challenge for us, but we prefer it," St. Joseph senior running back Cody Sampson said. "We know we have to be ready to play every week."

St. Joseph, the small private school in Hammonton, won the Cape-Atlantic League's American Division last season with an 8-1 record.

Once a dominant team in the Cape's National Division - in which they regularly beat weaker opponents by upward of 50 points - the Wildcats showed they could compete weekly with large public schools with more than five times their enrollment.

St. Joseph will face a similar challenge this year, with several teams looming as strong contenders for the American Division crown.

"We know everybody is going to be coming after us," junior running back Rocco Ordille said. "We look forward to it."

Sampson and Ordille are veteran leaders of a team that likely will rely heavily on younger players such as sophomores Salaam and Alaam Horne as well as junior C.J. LaFragola.

Holy Spirit, which will host St. Joseph on Sept. 20, will move down to the National Division next season but could capture the American crown in its last season in the Cape's far more competitive division.

The Spartans should have one of South Jersey's best defenses, led by seniors such as tackle Ray Ellis, linebacker Jeff Steeb, and backs Franco Rifici and A.J. Dawson.

Senior quarterback T.J. Anderson and senior running back Taalib Gerald are keys to the Spartans' triple-option offense.

Millville should contend for the division title as well as the South Jersey Group 5 championship with a veteran group led by defensive tackle Antoine White, a Penn State recruit, and linebacker Ed Shockley.

Senior two-way linemen Keyvon Rivera and Obi Kali supply the muscle up front for a team that also features speedy junior running back Rob Ennis, who gained 1,509 yards with 18 touchdowns last season.

Hammonton will play its final season in the Cape before moving to the Tri-County (and West Jersey Football League) in 2014.

The Blue Devils could make their last season one to remember behind senior all-purpose athlete Alex Padovani, a Villanova recruit, as well as seniors such as linebacker Dylan Rosu and two-way end Dylan Mento.

Hammonton has an experienced offensive line led by three-year starter Bobby Frederico.

Absegami has a loaded sophomore class, but the Braves will be dangerous with a seasoned quarterback in senior Mike Dolan, a top lineman in senior Roman Rudisill, and one of South Jersey's fastest players in senior running back David Hood, a Temple recruit.

Atlantic City will rebuild a bit behind senior two-way lineman Grant Nulty. Sophomore Jamir Prevard is a young player to watch for the Vikings.

Mainland features two-way linemen Kenny Randall, a Temple recruit, and Mike Bucca.

Egg Harbor Township is rebuilding behind two-way senior linemen Eric Morrison and Austin Gray, and Oakcrest will look to senior two-way lineman Connor Dindak and junior two-way end Kevin Stokes.

National Division

St. Augustine Prep won the division with an 8-0 record last season and looms as the heavy favorite again in 2013.

The Hermits, who will move up to the American Division in 2014, have a corps of solid seniors such as two-way lineman Mike McGrath, wide receiver Austin Francisco, linebacker Tim Kennelly, and defensive back Ryan Piscitelli.

But the key to the season and the future could be the development of inexperienced players such as junior running back Lamont Harris, freshman running back Cashmir Phillips, sophomore quarterback Jose Tabora, and freshman wide receiver Brandon Outlaw.

"Our young guys have to grow up in a hurry," St. Augustine Prep coach Mark Reardon said.

Bridgeton returns 10 two-way starters from a 6-5 team that won a South Jersey Group 2 playoff game. The Bulldogs will be led by junior two-way backs Stefon Bowman and Cappadonna Miller and senior running back/linebacker Quasheem Taylor.

Cedar Creek went 8-2 last season and finished second to St. Augustine by the margin of a one-point overtime loss on Thanksgiving. The Pirates lost a lot of talent, including all-South Jersey athlete Damon Mitchell, who is at the University of Arkansas. But there's a solid returning corps led by senior fullback/linebacker Keith Alston and senior two-way lineman Ralphie Collazo.

Ocean City could emerge as a contender behind senior running back Frank Woolley, who gained 1,148 yards with 11 touchdowns last season.

Buena has a top two-way lineman in senior Eric Anderson and a running back to watch in junior Lov'Uan Scott.

Middle Township lost key players from a 6-4 team but returns standout junior two-way back Yamire McNeal, and new Vineland coach Dan Russo will rebuild around senior two-way lineman Jamil Demby.

Pleasantville senior Ronnell Moore generated seven touchdowns and seven interceptions last season, and new Lower Cape May coach Bill Miller will look to seniors such as two-way end Josh Frederick for leadership in a major rebuilding project.


Contact Phil Anastasia at panastasia@phillynews.com.

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