Oakhurst, NJ - Coach Sal Spampanato led the Ocean Township Spartans to a 7-4 record last year, including 5-1 in conference play and a berth in the Central Group 3 State Playoffs. Led by a talented set of juniors the Spartans easily disposed of Hamilton before falling short to Wall, a Group 3 Finalist. Last year's juniors are one year older and expectations at Ocean Township are high going into the 2005 campaign.
Ocean Township had no problem scoring points last year. The Spartans put 40 or more on the board a total of five times. Defensively, they did not allow the opposition to reach double digits in points a total of four times (including two shutouts). With a talented cast of seniors and some underclassmen sprinkled in here and there, one of the top schools in New Jersey to keep an eye on this upcoming season is the squad from Oakhurst.
Led by the talented dual-threat signal-caller Keith McPherson, who has interest in the University of Wisconsin, Ocean Township should, once again, have no problems putting up points in bunches this year.
McPherson participated in both the Elite Combine and Nike/PSU Camp earlier in this spring, recording a 9-foot-5 standing broad jump in Randolph, N.J. At the Nike Camp McPherson timed in at 4.55 in the 40 and 4.22 in the shuttle (both times, electronic). The standout quarterback from the Shore-Conference also recorded an impressive 35.6-inch vertical leap.
We recently had the opportunity to visit with the standout athlete at Ocean Township at a weight-lifting fundraiser held at the high school. With members of the team and staff on hand, including families and friends, McPherson, who now holds scholarship offers from Hofstra and Delaware, benched an impressive 255 pounds.
The competition, which began at 5 p.m., ended within 90 minutes. For the weightlifters out there, it is no secret that maxing out on the flat bench will take quite a bit out of you physically. Not in the least affected, McPherson and several of his senior teammates, including Chris Chittum, Cory Giddings, and Lou Eliades began their regular evening lifting workouts shortly thereafter.
A do-it-al kind of running back, Chris Chittum, whose last year accomplishments are highlighted in bold in the Spartan gym, carried the ball 152 times last fall for 1,020 yards.
You do the math - that is an impressive 6.7 yards per carry. Named all-division and all-county running back by the Asbury Park Press, Chittum also ran track during his junior year, performing in the 400 relay and the open 100 with a personal best of 11.2 seconds.
He is without a doubt one of the top running backs in the state of New Jersey. And this year, in addition to his offensive duties, will also be playing free safety.
Shane Bigelow is a 6-foot-2, 315-pound defensive tackle and offensive guard for Ocean Township. A space eater on both the offensive and defensive lines, Bigelow has the type of athleticism reserved for athletes of smaller stature.
The origin of his outstanding athleticism - for the wrestling fans out there - is due in large part to Shane's father, former WWF/ECW/WCW superstar, Bam-Bam Bigelow.
With arms the size of tree trunks, Shane has inherited his father's athletic prowess and will be a dominating force offensively and defensively this year for the Spartans.
When one thinks of New Jersey offensive lineman, the first name that should surface is Lou Eliades. Having recently received scholarship offers from Nebraska, Miami, and Connecticut, Eliades now estimates about 19 offers. Wisconsin is one of the many schools in pursuit.
Without a doubt the most impressive feature about Eliades, besides his size, is the peak shape that the offensive lineman is already in. A common trademark among high school linemen across the country is their necessity to be closely involved with a college training regimen. Eliades, at 6-5, 280, has much room to add a significant amount of weight. Eliades, who has been timed at a 5.0 in the 40, could play guard or tackle in college - his versatility is a characteristic that makes him one of the more sought-after linemen in the East.
With the crowd gathered around for his final lift (Eliades had successfully lifted three plates and then some ... previously) of the day, Eliades put up 355 pounds on the flat bench.
The dominating lineman will be giving the defensive side a try this year in addition to his usual spot at guard.
One of the top athletes on the Spartans this year is a 6-foot, 175-pound prospect by the name of Cory Giddings. Giddings will be stationed at wide receiver and defensive back. He will also be contributing to alleviate some of Chittum's running load by chipping in at running back.
Giddings, who first played as a junior, will be attending the Virginia Camp (with the Ocean Township team) this summer.
An explosive athlete, Giddings possesses a 35-inch vertical and has been timed in the 40 at 4.5 seconds.
Joey Falco, who will be a junior as he enters the 2005 academic year, stands 5-8, 165 pounds. Falco will be one of two primary tailbacks along with Chittum this year.
An honor roll student, Falco spent some time at running back last year in addition to returning kicks.
One of the top underclassmen at Ocean Township is a prospect by the name of Alex Levy. Levy, standing at 5-10, 180 will also be entering his junior year this upcoming fall. A starter at linebacker last year, Levy was second on the team in tackles and also forced four fumbles.
Levy has been timed at 4.5 in the 40 and at 4.3 in the pro agility.
In addition to his on the field performance, Levy also holds an A average in the classroom.
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