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  • Writer's pictureDan Russoman

Football teams begin workouts

Hammonton running back Kenny Smith looks for room during last season’s scrimmage against Sterling. (THG/Dan Russoman. To purchase photos in The Gazette, call (609) 704-1940.)

HAMMONTON—Local high school football teams begin official workouts on August 10 as both prepare for the upcoming season.

At Hammonton High School, the Blue Devils are hoping to build on a solid 2021 campaign that saw the team win three of its last four games.

“We had a really young group last season, a lot of sophomores who had to step in and play big roles for us. They got some experience and were very motivated. Last year they got to see some things for the first time and they’ve learned and we’re hoping they keep getting better,” Hammonton coach Jim Raso said.

Hammonton shifts to the West Jersey Football League (WJFL) Memorial Division this season and is expected to challenge for the title.

“We’ve certainly put in the work this offseason, so we’ll see what happens,’ Raso said.

Hammonton will feature sophomore running back Kenny Smith, one of the area’s most dynamic players, as well as quarterback Billy Way, who was the starter at the end of last season.

“He [Way] looks stronger this season and we think he can be really good. He understands everything a lot more this year,” Raso said.

The Blue Devils are strong up front on both offense and defense and feature a solid group of linebackers led by Andrew Wehner.

Raso and the staff are excited about newcomer Kye Pressley, a transfer from Camden Catholic who has drawn interest from several top college programs.

“He [Pressley] is an exciting player who has an unbelievable motor. He’s going to anchor our defensive line,” Raso said.

St. Joseph Academy begins its workouts preparing for its final season under the guidance of longtime head coach Paul Sacco who announced last week that he is leaving the program at the end of the season.

“This is it, my last year at St. Joe,” Sacco said.

The Wildcats are coming off a solid 9-3 season in 2021, but have plenty of questions heading into this fall.

Among the concerns is the small roster the Wildcats will take into games this season. St. Joseph currently lists only 24 players on the roster.

“We’re going to ask a lot out of these kids this year. Most will play both ways and it’s not going to be easy,” Sacco said.

Seniors Jimmy Mantuano, Richard Chandler, Demarion McCoy and Christian Glass lead a young team that will need to stay healthy against a tough schedule.

“Our schedule is brutal and I hope we can have enough players for every game. I don’t know how much we’ll win this year, but we’ll work hard, that I can tell you,” Sacco said.

St. Joe opens the season on September 2 at St. Augustine Prep, then hosts Holy Spirit the following weekend.

“Those are two tough games right out of the gate, so we’ll just have to wait and see [how we do],” Sacco said.

At Hammonton, the Blue Devils season-opener is slated for August 26 at home against Notre Dame.


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