March 12, 2012 |
TOMS RIVER, N.J. - There was a moment during pregame warm-ups when the Cedar Creek girls' basketball team collectively paused and smiled. "We are," a voice yelled through the relatively quiet Pine Belt Arena stands, catching the team's attention. "Cedar Creek," was the emphatic response from the sizable student section in the bleachers behind the basket. And so it went - four times - a rally cry for a program still in its infancy. A tone-setter, a symbol of the atmosphere the Pirates (26-4)
December 6, 2012 |
Three years ago, Damon Mitchell was a freshman at Oakcrest. Gary Melton Jr. was a freshman at St. Augustine Prep. Cedar Creek was a construction site. Now, Mitchell and Melton are senior leaders for a Cedar Creek football team that is on the verge of a South Jersey title in just its second season of varsity competition. Those guys don't just run fast. They work fast. "Over the last three years, Coach [Tim] Watson has told us many times to look in our heart and imagine and envision a parade down Philadelphia Avenue after we bring home the state championship," Mitchell said.
March 13, 2012 |
TOMS RIVER, N.J. - Mikila Stefanski talked about how kids she doesn't even know hug her in the middle of the Cedar Creek hallways. Teachers have started rounds of applause when the players walk into class. Kristine Miller recalled the police escort the Pirates got back to the Egg Harbor City school after winning Sunday's Group 1 title game. "Not even kidding, that was borderline the best day of my life," she said. It's often said that losing is a learning experience.
February 12, 2013 |
Cedar Creek quarterback Damon Mitchell said Monday night that he was strongly considering Arkansas and Rutgers as his college destination. Mitchell, a first-team all-South Jersey selection who led Cedar Creek to the South Jersey Group 2 title game, said he might not make his decision until signing day on Wednesday. "My mom and me are trying to decide what's best for me," Mitchell said after scoring 16 points for the Cedar Creek basketball team in a 70-69 loss to St. Joseph. Mitchell committed to Georgia Tech in July but said he was unsure if the Yellow Jackets had withdrawn their offer.
December 2, 2012 |
Gary Melton hit the end zone four times for Cedar Creek to lead the second-seeded Pirates to a 41-3 victory over Willingboro in a South Jersey Group 2 semifinal Saturday. Damon Mitchell impacted the game on both sides of the ball. He threw for three touchdowns, ran in another score on a double reverse, and returned an interception to the Chimeras' 5-yard line. Non-Public Group 1 Anthony Giagunto threw for two touchdowns as St. Joseph rolled past visiting Hudson Catholic, 72-0, in the semifinals.
January 19, 2013 |
Every time Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson, and Colin Kaepernick baffled NFL defenses with their legs as well as their arms, Damon Mitchell looked more like a quarterback. Mitchell, a 6-foot-3, 205-pound senior at Cedar Creek, committed to Georgia Tech on a football scholarship in July because the Atlantic Coast Conference program was the only team to recruit him as a quarterback. Every other college projected him as a defensive back. That changed after Mitchell ran for 21 touchdowns and passed for 22 in leading Cedar Creek to a 10-2 record - and maybe after those mobile quarterbacks took the NFL by storm.
March 10, 2012 |
Think about some of the obvious issues that might arise for a program in its second varsity season: Team chemistry, building a fan base, winning games. The Cedar Creek girls' basketball team, just as it has done in the group playoffs, bulldozed through every one of those. It would be nice to say the team has created a blueprint for young programs to follow - in many ways, that might be true. But there are certain aspects of the Pirates, who will play for a Group 1 title at 6 p.m. Sunday against Whippany Park at Toms River's Pine Belt Arena, that aren't easily replicated.