Red Raiders Open Football Season at Lower Cape May

first_imgSummer drills at Carey Stadium showcase a play action fake by the offense. (Photos courtesy of OCHSfootball.com) By TIM KELLYThe start of the high school football season brings with it high hopes and high expectations.For the players, coaches and fans of the Ocean City Red Raiders, that is certainly the case leading into the 2019 campaign.The Raiders, coming off a sometimes exhilarating, sometimes exasperating and almost always exciting 4-6 season, kick things off Friday 6 p.m. at Lower Cape May.“Game week has finally arrived,” head coach Kevin Smith said in his weekly email to friends of the program. “Please come out and support us as we begin our march to the playoffs.”The final pre-season practice took place yesterday, followed by a team dinner in the cafeteria. Smith also scheduled a three-hour practice for Saturday morning, presumably to go over the opening game’s successes and challenges.Those details took a back seat on Thursday as Raider Nation focused on the first “for real” action to follow a busy summer of weight training, scrimmages, camps and pre-season team activities.Ocean City looked very good in its final two scrimmages — both shutout wins — including a dominating 19-0 whitewash of a strong Cinnaminson team that went 8-3 last year, including a win in the Group II playoffs.Carey Stadium, the Raiders’ century-old home field, hosted Philadelphia Eagles defensive end and local resident Vinny Curry’s youth camp earlier in the summer.O.C.’s coaches and many of the players volunteered to help out at the event. There were also several NFL-sanctioned football events, including a “7-on-7” tournament, pitting the Raiders against some of South Jersey’s top programs.A hard summer’s work in the weight room should pay dividends for the Raiders this season.With all of that in the rearview mirror, it was time to focus on the Caper Tigers.“They are going to be ready for us,” Smith said in an email, “and we are going to be ready for them.”Lower Cape May is coming off a 6-4 season during which the Tigers were explosive at times, scoring a total of 89 points in two games. The offense revolves around junior quarterback Connor Eckel who had a strong sophomore season, running for nearly 900 years and passing for over 700.He has an experienced four-man rotation in the backfield and a top returning receiver in Nico Castellano.The team figures to contend in the West Jersey Football League’s United Division, and some observers call them the favorites.“We won six games last year and I don’t see any reason why we can’t improve on that and win seven or eight,” head coach Brian Hindle said in a published report.Ocean City also has a highly-touted junior quarterback. However, Joe Repetti will be seeing his first varsity action as the starter. That doesn’t seem to matter to his coach or teammates.“I really like him,” Smith said at the 7-on-7 tournament. “He does a lot of things well and he has looked sharp in the pre-season.”Once again, Smith is expected to unleash a dynamic spread offense, a threat to move the ball and score at any time. It’s well-suited for Repetti’s precise timing throws underneath and his ability to chuck it deep.The Ocean City defense flies to the ball in a recent scrimmage against Cherry Hill West.Last season the offense was plagued by almost a complete lack of a reliable running game. Establishing one this year is vital to success.Smith has repeatedly cited “finishing drives” as one of the top needs for improvement. A great way to do so is with an old-school ground game, something the Raiders will need to secure a playoff berth for the third straight year and to make noise in the postseason.No matter how the offense develops, defense might be the top calling card when Ocean City makes its identity known. The Raiders return eight of 11 starters on the defensive side of the ball, including a linebacker group headed by juniors Brad Jamison, a 6-foot-2, 205-pounder, senior Tommy Oves and Jake Inserra, one of the co-captains.Junior defensive end Mike Rhodes provides bigtime size (6-foot-5, 228 pounds) and is expected to be a force on the pass rush. Another junior, Will Drain, a 6-foot-2, 200-pounder who made some big plays last year, joins Rhodes in a quarterback’s nightmare.Chris Armstrong, another co-captain, leads by example as a record-holder in the weight program, and with his vocal exhortations to his teammates. The 6-foot, 252-pound senior two-way lineman, described himself at a team event as, “Just a kid who wants to play football. I’ll do anything they ask of me to help us win. I want to enjoy every minute of my senior year. Winning is a lot more fun (than the alternative).”Repetti’s proven targets include junior Jake Schneider, whom a coach deemed “uncoverable” at one of the scrimmages, and co-captain Brian Beckman, who is known to make plays as a defensive back as well.On special teams, one of O.C. observers’ unanswered questions was who will be doing the bulk of the kicking? A logjam at the position currently exists, including seniors Henry Suoto and Micah Waid vying for kicks with soph Brendan McGonigle.Of the Raiders six losses last year, half were by a margin of a touchdown or less, the most devastating of which was a walk-off loss at home on a last-second field goal by arch foe Mainland.That game, the annual “War at the Shore” on Nov. 1, has been circled on the Raiders calendar from the moment the schedule was released.Aside from a playoff berth and a championship, Ocean City would like nothing more than to return the favor to the ’Stangs when the Raiders head over Ninth Street to Linwood.Following the Lower Cape May game, Ocean City’s home opener will be the following Friday, Sept. 13, 6 p.m. at Carey Stadium against Egg Harbor Township. Then come three straight road games at Bridgeton, Absegami and St. Augustine Prep, a brutal stretch that should either set the tone for a run at the division crown and playoffs or a role as spoiler.All things considered, Ocean City figures to have a strong year. It boasts experience and depth at most positions, motivation from last year’s near-misses and they are coming off a 3-2 division mark.We’re not in the predictions business, but if you’ve read this far you deserve one: It says here the Raiders make the playoffs once again. Winning the West Jersey Independence Division will be a taller order.The outcome against Absegami, middle game in the aforementioned three-game stretch of road contests, will go a long way in determining who wins it. The Braves already are 2-0 with impressive non-league victories over Burlington County traditional powers Shawnee and Pemberton by a combined score of 35-7.Ocean City has shown in the past it backs down to no opponent. We’re still going to go conservative here and perhaps give the home squad some bulletin board material: We think the Raiders hang in the division race most of the season and wind up taking second place to the Braves.Last year’s team gathers for a group photo after their last home game, a win over Washington Township.last_img read more

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Broadway Grosses: Hamilton Remains Box Office Darling

first_img View Comments With the official start of fall comes cooler weather and milder crowds, and though most Broadway shows faced an expected dip in grosses, a select few celebrated an uptick. The gargantuan hit Hamilton seems to never be satisfied, as it hit its highest capacity to date last week and jumped to $1,567,451. There was also The Book of Mormon and Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, with the latter reaching its highest gross since June. Meanwhile, the Deaf West revival of Spring Awakening opened to well-nigh unanimous raves. We suspect forthcoming word-of-mouth and assurance of a production far from the one that closed only six years ago will lead to a more prominent presence on the boards during its limited run.Here’s a look at who was on top—and who was not—for the week ending September 27:FRONTRUNNERS (By Gross)1. The Lion King ($1,758,556)2. Hamilton ($1,567,451)3. The Book of Mormon ($1,489,769)4. Wicked ($1,426,156)5. Aladdin ($1,347,833)UNDERDOGS (By Gross)5. The Gin Game ($321,528)**4. Amazing Grace ($256,284)3. Fool For Love ($239,768)*2. Hand to God ($205,062)1. Dames At Sea ($144,944)***FRONTRUNNERS (By Capacity)1. The Book of Mormon (102.40%)2. Hamilton (101.36%)3. Fun Home (101.01%)4. The Lion King (100.01%)5. Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (100.00%)UNDERDOGS (By Capacity)5. Matilda (70.23%)4. Les Miserables (70.20%)3. Jersey Boys (69.24%)*2. Hand to God (45.68%)1. Amazing Grace (45.61%)* Number based on eight preview performances**Number based on six preview performances***Number based on five preview performancesSource: The Broadway Leaguelast_img read more

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Badgers eager to play in Hockey City Classic

first_imgSenior forward Derek Lee returned to the ice Saturday after missing three games with a concussion. Lee is second on the team in points with 20 on the season.[/media-credit]Seven years ago, 40,890 fans filled Lambeau Field to watch the Wisconsin men’s hockey team down Ohio State 4-2 in the Frozen Tundra Classic during the second-ever collegiate outdoor hockey game.Three years ago on Feb. 6, 2010, the Badgers used two third-period power play goals from Brendan Smith to beat Michigan 3-2 in the Camp Randall Classic in front of 55,031 fans.In just a few days, Feb. 17, 2013 to be exact, Wisconsin will face-off with arch-rival Minnesota at Soldier Field in the long-awaited Hockey City Classic. In a span of seven years, the Badgers will play their third outdoor game – but for the first time, they’ll play a WCHA opponent. And what better opponent to play than the rival Gophers?“This is a lifetime experience,” head coach Mike Eaves said during his Monday press conference. “Going to the place where the Olympics are held and where it sits in the city itself, it’s a life experience. It’s something that – and once again, the kids on our team now that haven’t played outside, they get to talk about this to their kids and grandkids. Being a life experience makes it all worth it.”For most of the skaters, it’s their first outdoor game in years – or ever. For the small handful of seniors on the team, or fifth-year skaters, only defenseman John Ramage saw time on the ice in the 2010 game.With the chance to play outside one more time, Ramage is fully embracing the unique opportunity.“It’s incredible,” Ramage said. “Usually playing outdoors is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I get to do it twice. I’m very lucky and I’m really looking forward to it.”With weather a factor when playing outside, Ramage admitted he hasn’t given his teammates any advice yet, but come Saturday, he’ll be ready with pointers.Fellow senior, forward Derek Lee, had the opportunity to practice at the Camp Randall outdoor rink in 2010. He didn’t get the chance to play in the game – he was only a freshman at the time – but Lee was still wrapped up in the experience. With the 2010 game on campus, it had that extra special feel to it, according to Lee.“It was something cool and I’m sure this weekend will be something similar,” Lee said.But as one of the senior leaders this season – and second on the team in points, with 20 – Lee will certainly get plenty of ice time come Sunday.“I’m glad we’ve got two outdoor games during my four years of being here,” Lee said. “I missed out on the first one a little bit. Now I get to finally do it. I’ve never done something like this so it’ll be exciting and it’s kind of cool that we’re going to a neutral location in Chicago – a place that everyone can familiarize themselves with in Soldier Field.”While Lee relishes his second opportunity to play outdoors, junior defenseman Frankie Simonelli was anticipating the eventual occasion ever since his recruiting visits.“When I came here on my visit – that was a long time ago – they had mentioned they were going to have the one in 2010 and then they said they had also imagined that in the time I was here, there would also be a game,” Simonelli said. “When I came on my visit and saw all the pictures of the previous game in ’06 at Lambeau, I just thought of how exciting that was for those guys. Coming to a big school like this, I knew I would have an opportunity like that.”While he only had to wait about two and a half years, the game is also being played right in his backyard – just 35 minutes up Interstate 290 from his hometown of Bensenville, Ill.“I know a lot of family and friends back home are all excited,” Simonelli said. “Everyone’s asking me a million different questions (about the game). I just tell them ‘I don’t have the answers right now.’ It’s definitely going to be an exciting event for me, my teammates and all the people back home.”While friends, family and fans have been waiting for this weekend, the players themselves are just ready to have some fun in a unique setting against one of their most hated opponents.Regardless of the hype around the event or whether it is someone’s first outdoor game on such a scale, one thing is certain: It’s the way hockey was meant to be played.“It adds that kind of mystique to it,” Lee said. “You’re playing outside where the game originated and people were just doing it for fun. We’re going to do the same thing. We’re going to have some fun out there.”last_img read more

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