By TOM WILLIAMS
Ocean City High School’s football team has improved its record each of the last three years leading up to the 7-3 season in 2017, the school’s best in 16 years.
This fall, despite some valuable losses to graduation, the Raiders have more expectations of success.
Harry Pfeifle, the record-setting quarterback, is gone. So is tackle Art Spackman and defenders Tom Meehan, James Rice and Issac Robertson. All five were first team all stars. Also gone is 1,000-yard rusher Liam Bergman and two-way linemen Vic Mahar and Chad DiDonna, and receivers Bob Shallcross and Josh Rolls.
Linebacker Brandon Lin is back, hoping to lead the team in tackles for a third straight season. Lin and tackle Dan Auberzinsky were both named to the pre-season All-South Jersey second team.
A half-dozen other key players are back from last year, including Bill Kroeger, Brandon Lashley, Austin Green, Travis Stoerrle, Kevin King and Jackson Young.
Coach Kevin Smith (29-41 in seven seasons) has around six players playing both ways but his depth at running back and corner back allow him to rest some players.
“We lost a lot of talent,” Smith said, “but we have a strong senior class and some good looking sophomores. We expect to compete for the division title and a playoff berth.”
The same publication that picked Lin and Auberzinsky to its All-South Jersey team – Marc Narducci’s 27th Annual South Jersey Preview – picks Smith’s Raiders as the team to beat in the West Jersey Football League’s Independence Division.
High school football is different this year. The regular season ends in October, the South Jersey playoffs will be over by Thanksgiving, non-playoff teams can get two consolation games and first-round playoff losers can get a consolation game.
The Independence Division has changed dramatically, though there were only two changes. St. Joseph and Cedar Creek, two perennial champions, have left the division and Bridgeton and Egg Harbor Township have replaced them. The other teams in the division are Absegami, Mainland and Oakcrest.
Ocean City opens the season Friday (7pm) at EHT, a team that surprised Atlantic City last weekend with a 21-8 win.
All OCHS games can be heard on 106.3-The Shore and online through www.OceanCitySports.com. Many will be video streamed.
The full Ocean City schedule and complete roster are both also at www.OceanCitySports.com.
Probable OCHS offensive regulars:
Center: 73-Jackson Young (5-10, 244, sr)
Guard: 52-Zac Clark (5-9, 193, sr)
Guard: 50-Brandon Lin (5-11, 202, sr)
Tackle: 79-Dan Auberzinsky (6-5, 322, sr)
Tackle: 67-Chris Armstrong (5-11, 238, jr)
Tight End: 11-Joe Groves (6-2, 193, sr)
H-Back: 42-Bill Kroeger (6-1, 201, sr)
Receiver: 21-Brandon Lashley (6-0, 170, sr)
Receiver: 19-Jake Schneider (5-8, 148, so)
Quarterback: 8-Ian Aungst (5-11, 181, sr)
Back: 31-Lou Conte (5-8, 161, jr)
Back: 4-Kevin King (6-0, 168, sr)
Back: 1-Travis Stoerrle (6-1, 202, sr)
Back: 45-Jake Inserra (5-9, 186, so)
Probable OCHS defensive regulars:
Nose Tackle: 83-Austin Green (6-0, 223, sr)
Tackle: 55-Will Drain (6-2, 204, so)
Tackle: 89-Mike Rhodes (6-5, 201, so)
Inside LB: 1-Travis Stoerrle (6-1, 202, sr)
Inside LB: 45-Jake Inserra (5-9, 186, so)
Outside LB: 50-Brandon Lin (5-11, 202, sr)
Outside LB: 42-Bill Kroeger (6-1, 201, sr)
Corner: 4-Kevin King (6-0, 168, sr)
Corner: 31-Lou Conte (5-8, 161, jr)
Corner: 6-Jaden Tocci-Rogers (6-1, 157, jr)
Safety: 21-Brandon Lashley (6-0, 170, sr)
Safety: 24-Ted Grimley (5-11, 176, jr)
Punter: 15-Joe Repetti (6-0, 162, so)
Kicker: 18-Henry Souto (5-8, 145, jr)
Kicker: 99-Micah Waid (5-10, 233, jr)
Snapper: 24-Ted Grimley (5-11, 176, jr)
Holder: 15-Joe Repetti (6-0, 162, so)
Kick Returns: 21-Brandon Lashley (6-0, 170, sr)
Kick Returns: 19-Jake Schneider (5-8, 148, so)
Sean Matthews, Defensive Coordinator, LBs
Paul Callahan, Offensive Coordinator, QBs
Frank LaSasso, DBs
Mike Eisenstein, DL
Tim Kelley, WRs, Special Teams
Kevin Sinclair, RBs
Dan Sinclair, Defensive Assistant
John Bow, DBs, Special Teams
Mike Williscroft, freshmen
Paul Baruffi, freshmen
Dominic Iannace, freshmen
Joe McSorley, freshmen