A lot of activity has been going around the St. Augustine football program over the past month and now there is stability with the hiring of Pete Lancetta as head coach.
Over the past two years, St. Augustine could have made an argument for being the No. 1 team in South Jersey. The Hermits were 9-1 both in 2015 and 2016 and both losses were to North Jersey powers in the playoffs. This past year the Hermits lone loss was to Bergen Catholic, 57-23 in an opening NJSIAA Non-Public A game.
Last year the Hermits lost to St. Jose Montvale, 28-0 in an opening round playoff game.
The program still appeared in great shape even if the Hermits couldn’t get go toe to toe with the North Jersey powers.
The change began recently when assistant coaches Chalie Roman and Tiger Minetti left St. Augustine to return to Holy Spirit.
Roman is a former head coach at Spirit.
Then on May 8, St. Augustine head coach Mark Reardon resigned. Reardon went 42-9 in his five seasons and the ex-Villanova assistant appeared to be building a South Jersey power.
Here is what St. Augustine did under Reardon:
2016: 9-1 lost in the playoffs to Bergen Catholic
2015: 9-1 lost in the playoffs to St. Joseph Montvale
2014: 8-2 lost to St. Joseph Hammonton in the opener and to Don Bosco Prep in the playoffs
2013: 8-3 lost to St. Peter’s Prep in the playoffs
2012: 8-2 lost to Don Bosco Prep in the playoffs
Lancetta was an assistant coach at Rowan the past two years. Before that, he was 215-65-1 in 26 seasons as the head coach at Hammonton.
Lancetta was always a coach who got the most out of his players at Hammonton, and few teams were known for playing harder than the Blue Devils.
Under Lancetta, the Blue Devils won four South Jersey titles. He will take over a St. Augustine team that has a strong returning nucleus including quarterback Josh Zamot, who completed 70-105 passes for 1,158 yards and 15 TDs. He rushed for 544 yards (6.6 avg.) and 9 TDs.
The defense is led by rising junior linebacker Joe Bonzcek, who had 101 tackles and six tackles for loss.
So with an experienced group returning to play for one of the more successful coaches in South Jersey history, this is a St. Augustine team that should again challenge for the top spot in South Jersey.
No doubt, there will be an adjustment period to a new coaching staff, but with Lancetta’s success, there should be no reason why the program can’t continue to be a dominant team.
The hiring of Lancetta should be a case of the rich getting richer.
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