By Phil Anastasia
Pete Lancetta wanted to leave Hammonton football when the time was right for him and for the program.
That wasn't the case at the end of the 2013 season.
But things changed over the course of the last year for the Blue Devils and their veteran coach.
Lancetta on Tuesday resigned as Hammonton's coach after 26 highly successful seasons. He will take a position as an offensive line coach at Rowan University, working closely with his brother Pat, the Profs' offensive coordinator.
"I'm as excited now as I was in 1989 when I was named the coach at Hammonton," Lancetta said. "It feels right. It feels right for me and it feels right for the program."
Lancetta went 215-65-2 during his long tenure at the Atlantic County school.
His teams won four South Jersey titles, capturing the Group 2 crown in 1993, 1994 and 1996 and the Group 3 crown in 2009. His teams made seven other appearances in the sectional finals.
"So many great kids came through the program," Lancetta said. "I formed a lot of great relationships. I'm proud to have lasted as long as I did. I grew up in the town. I knew it would be tough.
"I just put the blinders on and rolled up my sleeves and 26 years later I was still there.
"I had a lot of happy, happy times. That was a big chunk of my life."
Lancetta will continue as a business teacher at Hammonton. He said the Rowan position is ideal for him because he wanted to be able to coach at the college level after he retired from teaching in a few years.
Lancetta said he originally planned to resign after the 2013 season. But with the Blue Devils moving to the West Jersey Football League this season, and also rebuilding with several young players in prominent positions, he didn't feel it was the right time to step away.
Hammonton went 7-4 this season, winning its first six games and advancing to the South Jersey Group 4 semifinals.
"Nobody would have believed we would be preparing for a South Jersey Group 4 semifinal," Lancetta said. "We did better than expected and a lot of good young players got some good experience. The future is bright, as long as they continue to work hard.
"The program is in a good place and I'm in a good place. It's the right time."
-- Contact Phil Anastasia at email@example.com