Limited fans Friday at season opener

By TOM WILLIAMS

Coaches: Ocean City’s Kevin Smith starts his 10th season with a 42-50 record, the fourth most wins in Raider history. Absegami’s Chris Sacco starts his first season at Absegami after compiliing a 27-24 record at Pleasantville in five season. He replaces Dennis Scudari Jr. who stepped down after a 58-61 record at Absegami. Smith’s teams are 4-2 against Absegami and Sacco was 1-4 against the Raiders at Pleasantville.

Ocean City Update: The Raiders return nine offensive starters and seven from the defensive side. Senior Joe Repetti returns at QB after throwing for 1427 yards and a school record 20 TDs last season. He is the highest rated passer returning this year at a Cape-Atlantic League school. Senior Jake Schneider caught 46 passes for 691 yards in 2019 and is among the top five in receiving yardage in OCHS history. Senior H-back Brad Jamison caught 18 passes for 337 yards and five TDs. Senior Jake Inserra and junior Sean Mazzitelli added 474 more yards to the rushing total. And senior Mike Rhodes (6-5, 233), junior Zach Mazzitelli (5-11, 209) and Mike Gray (6-4, 242) are back on the line. On the defense, the top seven players in tackles from last year all return. That includes Inserra and Jamison at linebacker, Drain and Rhodes at the ends, senior Matt Christy (6-2, 261) at tackle, senior Brady Rauner (6-0, 178) at corner and junior Tom Schutta (5-11, 182) at safety. Junior Brendan McGonigle (5-11, 150) was second in the CAL with 46 kicking points and kicked four field goals. He is already fourth all-time in OCHS career extra points.

Absegami Update: The Braves are led by one of the Cape-Atlantic League’s best athletes – junior QB Ray Weed (5-9, 174), who is also a very successful wrestler. Last year Weed was eighth among CAL players with 844 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns. He also passed for 1283 yards and 10 TDs, though he only completed 39 percent of his 200 pass attempts. Senior Jordan Marcucci (5-10, 179) was Weed’s favorite target, catching 30 passes for 646 yards and seven scores, eighth best in the CAL. Marcucci also returned two kickoffs for touchdowns last year. Senior Sahmir Brown (6-0, 216), who will line up at running back this year, caught 12 passes a year ago. Senior Ryan Wilkins (6-0, 176) will also be a key receiver. Senior Sean Steward (5-10, 211), an all star last year, anchors the offensive line along with junior James Fitten ((5-11, 233). On defense, senior linebacker Mikal Taylor (5-10, 198) and sophomore linebacker George Rhodes (5-10, 186) will play significant roles with Weed and Marcucci in the secondary. Junior A.J. Silipinia (5-9, 196) had 30 kicking points last year and kicked a 33 yard field goal.

Tickets – and more: Tickets have been distributed to OCHS football players, band members and cheerleaders and also to Absegami. There will be no tickets available at the stadium. If you do not have a ticket, do not come to Carey Stadium Friday Night. If you do have a ticket, you must be wearing a mask to enter the stadium. The entrance into the stadium from the Boardwalk parking lot is not available. Entry must be made from Fifth or Sixth streets. Players on the field may remove masks but all players, coaches and others on the sidelines must be wearing masks.

Live Stream: Live video play-by-play, produced by Matt Ulmer and Bill Shallcross, can be seen HERE, along with more than a decade’s worth of videos of other OCHS games. There will be no radio coverage of this game, though the video stream will also be available on almost all mobile devices.

History: The Raiders lead Absegami, 17-15, in the all-time series with one tie. Ocean City has won the last three years, including a 44-6 win at Carey Stadium last year.

What’s At Stake: Unless the NJSIAA reverses itself and allows championship playoffs to be held, there is nothing really at stake this season. And there are no formal divisions in the West Jersey Football League. This season is all about the student-athletes just getting a chance to play.

Rankings: Ocean City has been ranked as high as #9 in pre-season rankings after reaching the South Jersey final last year. Schneider has been named a first team. All-South Jersey wide receiver.

Next week: Ocean City will travel to Oakcrest next Friday to play the Falcons with a 5pm kickoff. Absegami will play its home opener against Mainland next Friday at 6pm.

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