Calling it "an extremely difficult decision," Dennis Scuderi Jr. announced yesterday that he has resigned as Middle Township's head football coach to become the offensive coordinator at Fairleigh Dickinson University.

"I went back and forth with the decision because of how far our program has come," Scuderi said. "We've rebuilt to get to this point and it's tough to walk away, but this was an opportunity I couldn't pass up."

At Division III FDU, Scuderi will be reunited with Rich Mosca, the Knights' head coach.

Mosca was an assistant at Monmouth University when Scuderi was a defensive back at the school.

"He's always upbeat and a guy you look to for energy," said Scuderi, a Haddon Heights graduate. "I loved playing for him and I'm looking forward to coaching for him and learning from him."

When Scuderi recently told his Middle Township players about his decision, "there were a lot of tears," he said. "But they understood my reasons. It's tough because this was my first head-coaching job and we kind of grew up together."

Middle will return 46 players, including 20 seniors, from a team that compiled a deceiving 1-9 record. "We were competitive in most of our games," Scuderi said, "but we just didn't get things to fall our way."

The Panthers will return starters at 18 positions next season, "so they should be in good shape," said Scuderi, whose father is the head coach at St. Augustine Prep.

When Scuderi took over the Middle program before the 2005 season, "we only had 12 or 14 on the roster," he said. "Last year, we had over 60, so we've moved in the right direction."

Middle went 1-9 in each of Scuderi's two seasons.

Scuderi, who will recruit in the South Jersey area, and his wife, Jacqueline, plan to move from Somers Point to North Jersey.

Contact staff writer Sam Carchidi

at 215-854-5181

or scarchidi@phillynews.com.