Egg Harbor Township football coach Kevin Stetser was a star player for the Eagles in the 1990s and played on some outstanding teams, so he knows what winning football is all about, and he said he believes his team is on the verge of becoming the type of team that can contend for West Jersey Football League division titles year in and year out.

This will be a big year for EHT to prove that it can put a consistent, winning team on the field, and there are several seniors who are intent on making that happen before they graduate. The Eagles went 4-6 overall last year but finished 1-4 in the Independence Division. Stetser has been preaching “four quarters” to his team throughout the preseason, as letting games slip away with one bad quarter last fall has been a motivator throughout the offseason.

“Last year, we played much better than we had the previous two years and a lot of that came from the work the kids put in during the offseason, and their approach. The big thing for us is just playing a full four quarters, and I feel like this is a group that can do that,” he said. “They’ve come in and done everything we’ve asked them to do, their attitudes are great and the numbers are good. But, like I’ve been saying, the feel goods and the good numbers is not where we’re at — we want to win football games. And we feel like this group can take the next step.”

The team is led on defense by seniors Jack Schiavo and Stephen Moore, and on offense by senior tailback Tre McKenzie, who will have to bear the brunt of the offensive load as junior quarterback Anthony Rando — a first-year starter — gets some experience under his belt.

“It’s game experience. He did play last year in an emergency situation against Washington Township, we had two senior quarterbacks and neither of them could play, so he played that full game. If you look back at the numbers it didn’t look great, but as far as the way he handled the game and controlled the huddle well, that’s really where it’s at. For him, he just needs more experience,” Stetser said. “Tre has been with us for four years and this is a real big year for him. He’s another guy who has put in the work, and he makes the other guys in the huddle comfortable because they know he knows what he’s doing and he’s going to go out there and do what he’s supposed to. That comfort level (with a running back) is important for a quarterback, so having a guy like Tre back there is invaluable.”

“We’re just taking it day by day. We want it, we’re working harder, and we’re just going to take it game by game and the wins and everything else will come later,” McKenzie said. “We have a lot of linemen who have been in here since last winter getting better and training, we have a junior quarterback in Rando, I have trust in him, and we’re just working. I just want to play every game like it’s my last.”

“We’re just trying to get better at what we do, just technique-wise and trying to get better each day. We just want to play hard and physical every play, and go 100 percent from the snap to the whistle,” Moore added.

Stetser said he’s really been impressed with what he’s seen out of Schiavo and Moore in terms of their senior leadership.

“They are energy guys who bring it every play, every practice. They are two of the kids you’re going to hang your hat on culture-wise and on the field. They bring it, they both started for us last year and did a really nice job for us, and we’ve seen nothing but positives out of them,” he said. “Jack is a tough kid — he’s undersized, but he’s going to get guys to the ground, he gets through the wash, he’s a guy who has nose for the ball and when he gets there, he’s going to get you down. He’s a big-time kid for us.”

Stetser said he believes the Eagles can compete for the division title this year, and EHT isn’t all that far off the pace based on last year. The Eagles lost in overtime to division champion Mainland on Thanksgiving, played well through three quarters against Ocean City, and only lost by two scores to both Absegami and Oakcrest.

“All the games were close and we feel like it’s going to be the same type of situation. We want to establish ourselves as a team that can run the ball, then throw off the run, especially with an inexperienced quarterback. Hopefully, as the year goes on, we can expand on things,” Stetser said. “The biggest thing for us is playing the full four quarters. Sometimes (last year) we faded toward the end, sometimes we didn’t start well. We had a lot of games where we played three good quarters, but it’s that fourth quarter — whether it’s the first, fourth, second or third — if we can put it all together and be consistent, I feel like we have the guys to have a strong year.”

Moore said the Eagles will be ready to prove doubters wrong when they open the season on Sept. 6 at Atlantic City.

“It’s exciting, this season coming, but we’re mainly just focused on the little stuff right now and just getting better,” he said. “There’s nothing like (Friday nights), especially when you’re a senior, you want to make it right. It’s a good feeling being out there on Friday nights, especially when you win.”

Contact Dave O’Sullivan:; on Twitter @GDsullysays


(all games at 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Sept. 6 at Atlantic City (6 p.m.)

Sept. 13 at Ocean City (6 p.m.)

Sept. 21 vs. Kingsway (6 p.m.)

Sept. 27 vs. Oakcrest

Oct. 4 at Washington Township

Oct. 11 BYE

Oct. 19 at Cherry Hill East (11 a.m.)

Oct. 25 at Bridgeton

Nov. 1 vs. Absegami

Nov. 28 vs. Mainland Regional (10 a.m.)

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