|High School Football:
The Rebirth of Edgewood Football
Tuesday, October 31, 2000
By Ed Benkin
SJSports Staff Writer
The pride is back at Edgewood, and the timing couldn't have been better. After years of struggling at the bottom of the South Jersey football world, the Edgewood Eagles have soared to the top. The program which suffered through two one-win seasons in 1997 and 1998 is 7-0 and ranked second in the region. The Eagles are going to the playoffs for the first time in their history. They may even get the top seed in Group 3. A win over Bishop Eustace on Saturday will give Edgewood an Olympic National Division title. Edgewood is enjoying its finest football season ever...And its last.
The Lower Camden County School District will be reorganized next year, and Edgewood will get a name change. In 2001, the school will become Winslow Township High School. Head Coach Derryk Sellers knows the name change is on the minds of his players as well as the fans.
"The kids want to be the best team that ever played at this school," said Sellers. "It seems like they have that sense of history and pride."
Sellers is the big reason why the Eagles are title contenders. Even when Edgewood struggled during the 1990s, there was always talent in need of the right captain to steer the ship. Enter Sellers, who came to Edgewood last fall after coaching at Cumberland for two years. Cumberland was another struggling program, and the Colts finished 2-17 during Sellers' tenure. However, Edgewood High School recognized what Sellers could do with a talented team, and after Edgewood opened the 1999 campaign with a blowout win over Woodrow Wilson, the turnaround was underway. The Eagles finished with a record of 6-4, and Sellers had his players believing that 2000 could be a special season.
"I thought I could motivate these guys," Sellers said. "I thought I could get them going in a positive direction."
The Eagles have been a machine this fall. They have outscored opponents, 331-44. They have a host of offensive stars led by quarterback Nick Rosetti. Running back Brandon Osborne is closing in on another 1,000 yard season. Wide receivers Dennis Davis, Andre' DeRamus, Aaron Johnson and Jack Thompson all have blazing speed, and all four can turn any play into a touchdown. Still, there are the critics who point out that Edgewood has fattened up on a soft schedule. Five of the seven teams Edgewood has defeated have a combined record of 7-28. The two most impressive wins of the season came against Eastern and Camden Catholic. The Eagles defeated the Fighting Irish, 43-14, last Saturday, and their win over the 5-1 Eagles made believers out of many of the doubters.
"The kids were a little bit upset," said Sellers. "We don't make the schedules, we just go out and play. Everyone keeps talking about our schedule, but maybe we just have a good team. We've been beating everybody badly."
The Group 3 playoffs will get underway in less than two weeks, and Edgewood will get a chance to go against some of the area's most highly touted programs. Imagine a showdown between Edgewood and Ocean City, Mainland, or Egg Harbor Township.
"We want to play those teams," Sellers said. "We want to see how we fare against the best. I have a lot of respect for those teams. They're great programs."
Perhaps this really is a team of destiny. Maybe the last edition of the Edgewood Eagles will bring home a Group 3 championship. But no matter what happens in the next few weeks, the story of the 2000 Edgewood Eagles has already taken it's place amongst the most remarkable chapters in the South Jersey history books. More importantly, the pride is back at Edgewood. You can sense the buzz in the hallways. Sellers is running out of football shirts to sell to his students.
"When we played at Eastern, we had more fans than they did," said Sellers. "You just see that sense of pride walking in the hallways. I'm just really happy with what's going on."
Sellers and his players may be even happier by early December. Edgewood High School is already delirious.
Photos by Art Redd