By TOM WILLIAMS
It has been quite a football season for Cape-Atlantic League teams.
It didn’t start until October and, for most schools. it will end next week. When fans check Twitter and Facebook every day this year it is not necessarily to get the latest stats and predictions – it is also to see if any football programs have been shut down by COVID-19.
It happened to Mainland this week, Egg Harbor Township two weeks ago. Hammonton and St. Augustine have been affected, too. But, on the whole, CAL schools have been pretty fortunate.
This week the post-season begins, though it looks quite different. Sixteen teams from the West Jersey Football League, including five CAL teams, will play in four-team PODs this weekend. The winners and losers of the eight games will play next weekend. The rest of the WJFL teams, except for those impacted by COVID restrictions, will play individual games this week and next. And there will be five games Thanksgiving Week involving CAL teams.
Things have been missing from this season (mostly, the fans) but it is a season filled with memories. Holy Spirit’s Patrick Smith getting more than 1,000 yards rushing over the first four games was really impressive. The great offensive balance of Ocean City quarterback Joe Repetti. And the improvements at Absegami, Bridgeton and Lower Cape May.
But a great deal of the excitement has come from Jordan, Jake and JoJo.
Absegami senior Jordan Marcucci, Ocean City senior Jake Schneider and Cedar Creek junior JoJo Bermudez have put up impressive numbers and created that excitement by the speed and mobility they have shown in doing it. Marcucci has also been a success in wrestling and Schneider in lacrosse.
Marcucci (5-10, 179) is tied with Smith for the scoring lead this year among CAL players with 72 points. He has caught eight TD passes, returned two kickoffs for TDs and two punts for scores. He has caught 21 passes for 433 yards, giving him 77 career catches and 1,437 career receiving yards.
Schneider (5-8, 159) has added a new element to his excitement this year. He has returned three interceptions for TDs – an Ocean City record. Schneider leads the CAL with 22 catches for 477 yards and his career totals – 106 catches for 1,716 yards and 18 TDs – are also school records. He is 11 catches and 357 yards away from the CAL career records set by Bo Melton at Cedar Creek.
Bermudez (5-10, 171), who recently committed to join Melton at Rutgers, has caught 28 passes for 385 yards this year and has 83 catches for 1,299 yards in his career. His 914 yards receiving last year was the most ever by a CAL sophomore. He has also rushed for 277 yards and three touchdowns this season and returned two kickoffs all the way.
By the way, all the CAL leaders in rushing, passing and receiving can be found HERE.
It has been especially fun when two of them get together in the same game.
When Ocean City played Absegami, Schneider brought an interception back 45 yards for a score and caught four passes for 54 yards. Marcucci caught three for 113 yards, including an 81-yard score.
In the Ocean City-Cedar Creek game, Bermudez ran 91 yards for a touchdown on the game’s first play. It was the only time this year that Ocean City has been behind in a game. He finished with 133 yards on 11 carries. Schneider caught five passes for 40 yards and a TD and also returned an interception 40 yards for a touchdown.
Marcucci and Bermudez are scheduled to end the season against each other next week when Cedar Creek visits Absegami.
In a season when so many things are missing, these three guys have produced a high level of excitement. You can hear the murmur among the limited fans in attendance when one of them gets his hands on the ball.
The 2020 football season will be remembered for many things. One of the most memorable will be the thrills created by Jordan, Jake and JoJo.