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September 22, 2013As the high school football season ramps up, its time to take a closer look at some of the state's top special teams performers. NJ Varsity recently caught up with the region's authority on specialists, former Rutgers kicker Lee McDonald of Special Teams Solutions, who offered insight on many of the best garden state kickers, punters and long-snappers.
Among kickers, senior Frank Raggo of Randolph High School boasts legitimate division one talent according to McDonald. "Frank is a real deal scholarship kicker with a great leg, he is accurate under pressure and brings a fierce, competitive attitude to the position," says McDonald of Raggo, who connected on 5 of 7 field goals with a long of 43 yards as a junior. "Very good kickoffs with consistent 4.0 hang / 65+ yard bombs," adds McDonald who expects Raggo to sign with a division one program come signing day.
Next in line are two outstanding class of 2015 prospects in Michael Caggiano of Manalapan and Nick Pritchard of New Egypt. "Michael is coming on strong as one of the best kicking prospects in the northeast," says McDonald of Caggiano, who drilled 50 extra points and six field goals to help lead Manalapan to the state championship game last year. "He has a solid leg with good lift and hang on the ball and is deadly accurate when the pressure is on." Although he projects as a kicker at the next level, Caggiano is also a solid punter according to McDonald. "Mike turns the ball over consistently and pins opponents deep."
McDonald added that Pritchard relies on a strong leg that gives him a chance to compete with anyone. "As a kicker, Nick is already kicking well of the ground. He has a nice swing, good balance and coordination with above average lift on ball," says McDonald of Pritchard, who has already connected on 11 field goals with a long of 46 yards in two varsity seasons. McDonald also claims Pritchard may be the state's top punter. "Nick has consistent mechanics, compact steps and steady drop which allow him to drive the ball with great distance. Although he does not possess prototypical punter size, Nick packs tremendous pop on his balls to make him a true combo special teams threat," says McDonald.
Another dual threat is kicker/punter Jarry Jones of Lenape, a class of 2015 prospect with a great frame and a division one leg according to McDonald. "Jarry has a tremendous upside, possesses very good lift and hang on the ball and is someone who competes well under pressure." A 2012 highlight for Jones was kicking the game-winning field goal in a 17-14 victory over Shawnee on Thanksgiving Day.
A similar combo prospect with a high ceiling is senior Patrick Toomey of Red Bank Catholic, who not only kicks and punts but is the starting quarterback for the Caseys and connected on 47 extra points and 3 field goals while averaging over 40 yards a punt as a junior. "Patrick shows solid athleticism as both a kicker and punter," says McDonald. "He has a big, strong frame that will continue to develop at next level."
Standout punter John Bowers, a junior, of Bergen Catholic is very much an up and coming punting prospect according to McDonald. "John is a pure punter with smooth mechanics, good hands and a solid leg," says McDonald. "He has a long lean frame ideal for punting."
One the snapping side, Nick Mecca of South Brunswick is one of the state's best long snappers according to McDonald. "Nick has good size, frame and athletic ability. Very accurate with above average snap speed. Consistently snaps in the .8 range from 15 yards," says McDonald. Junior Anthony Scher of Ramapo also shows much promise. "Anthony has very good speed and accuracy and he performs well under pressure," says McDonald. "He has a thick frame that can take a beating."
Other notable special teams standouts include: Nick Banta, K/P, Middletown North; Mike Caffrey, P, Shawnee; Ty Coffey, LS, Mainland; John Coleman, K/P, Sparta; Mike Creamer, K/P, Matawan; Bronson Deckert, K, Delsea; Travis Feather, K, Bergen Catholic; Eric Martinez, K/P, Wayne Hills; Dylan Olson, K/P, South Brunswick; Jordan Pisano, LS, Matawan; Ryan Schreiber, K/P, Monroe; Alex Sempervive, LS, New Egypt; Devin Sevean, K/P, Pope John.
Many of the state's top kickers, punters and long snappers will put their skills on display at the 10th Annual STS College Exposure Camp Sunday November 24 at Superdome Sports in Waldwick, NJ. All high school specialists are welcome. Visit www.stscamps.com for more information.
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