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)
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 6, 2013 |
Shortly after his junior season at Cedar Creek, Damon Mitchell received his first scholarship offer. It was from Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights wanted him to play safety for them. Fourteen months later, after a sensational senior season and more than 20 other offers, Mitchell has circled back to Rutgers - although much has changed about the football program at the state university and the nature of the Scarlet Knights' pursuit of the 6-3, 205-pound athlete. Mitchell, a first-team all-South Jersey Inquirer selection, appears to have narrowed his college choices to Rutgers and Arkansas.
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.
January 30, 2013 |
Cedar Creek quarterback Damon Mitchell has decided to make an official recruiting visit this weekend to Arkansas. The surprising development - Mitchell has committed to Georgia Tech - could have an interesting side effect: Rutgers could emerge as a destination for the first-team all-South Jersey athlete. Mitchell, who ran for 22 touchdowns and passed for 21 in leading Cedar Creek to a 10-2 record and the South Jersey Group 2 title game, said he made the decision after a home visit by Arkansas coach Bret Bielema on Sunday.
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.
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.