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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Clippers done in by Zach Randolph’s triple-double

first_imgMidway through the second, both teams were still well above 50 percent shooting.After a first half with eight ties and 10 lead changes, it was appropriate that they were deadlocked 58-all at the break. Randolph had 14 points and Allen 13 for Memphis, while Jordan and Pierce had 11 points each for Los Angeles, with Jordan converting all five of his shots and Pierce going 3 of 4 from outside the arc.The teams stayed close early in the third before Memphis created a bit of a buffer behind Stephenson, who got to the rim, and a Grizzlies defense that caused a handful of Los Angeles turnovers by the 3-minute mark of the frame.Memphis pushed the lead back to double-digits, eventually reaching 85-70 as Los Angeles’ miscues reached seven for the quarter.The Clippers were able to score the last five points of the third, leaving Memphis with an 85-75 lead entering the fourth. Randolph recorded his 10th assist while hitting Allen on a cut to the basket with 1:26 left. He left the floor with about 35 seconds remaining in the game to a standing ovation as he pumped his fist.The win was an emotional lift for Memphis, which had lost its last two games to Minnesota and Milwaukee while dealing with an array of injuries.The Clippers, who trailed by 11 with 8:23 left in the game, cut into the advantage at the free throw line, making six straight. Paul’s 13-footer completed an 8-0 run and Memphis’ advantage was down to 91-88 with just under 7 minutes left.Randolph and McCallum took over at that point, combining for all but two of Memphis’ points in an 11-2 rally for a 102-90 lead, ending the Clippers’ chances.Memphis hit its first seven shots for an early 10-point lead. The Clippers countered with 3-point shooting, including a pair from Wesley Johnson and a third from Jamal Crawford. MEMPHIS, Tenn. >> Zach Randolph recorded his first career triple-double with 28 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists, Tony Allen added 22 points and the Memphis Grizzlies beat the Clippers 113-102 on Saturday night.Randolph, returning from a seven-game absence due to a sore knee, was 10 of 19 from the floor, while Allen was 7 of 10. Ray McCallum added 14 for Memphis, including seven in the fourth quarter. Lance Stephenson had 12 points and JaMychal Green finished with 11 as Memphis snapped a four-game losing streak.Chris Paul had 25 points and six assists for the Clippers, while DeAndre Jordan added 16 points and seven rebounds. Paul Pierce contributed 12 points and Austin Rivers finished with 10.The Clippers have lost three of four.center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more

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