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Next season, RBs could shine but still plenty of QB talent

Quarterbacks have a tough time surrendering the spotlight.

Quarterbacks have a tough time surrendering the spotlight.

Look at last weekend. Hammonton's Nick Crescenzo, Delsea's Chris Jackson, Cherokee's Andy Martin and Woodbury's Brian Purnell played prominent roles in leading their teams to South Jersey championships.

Next season will be the same.

At first glance, 2010 looks like the Year of the Running Back. But the quarterbacks aren't going anywhere.

Running backs should shine. Among the top returning ball-carriers are Glassboro junior P.J. James, who rushed for 1,730 yards and scored 23 touchdowns this season, along with Paul VI junior James Kenner, who rushed for 1,239 yards and scored 16 touchdowns.

Gloucester junior Steve Kumpf scored 23 touchdowns. West Deptford junior Vaughn Scott scored 17 touchdowns. Absegami junior Ben Martin scored 14 touchdowns.

Seneca junior Steve Greco ran for 1,034 yards and scored 15 touchdowns. His classmate, Zac Johnson, scored seven touchdowns.

St. Joseph junior Gordon Hill and sophomore Kaheem Reynolds combined for 1,392 yards and 27 touchdowns. Haddonfield junior Chris Davis ran for 825 yards and scored 14 touchdowns. Holy Spirit sophomore Nigel Jones scored 19 touchdowns.

That's a lot of experience and accomplishment at running back.

Abundance of QB talent. This year's senior class was loaded at quarterback, with Crescenzo, Jackson and Purnell along with St. Augustine's Dustin Thomas, Haddonfield's Phil Bhaya, Egg Harbor Township's Scott Miller, Camden Catholic's Joe Brennan and Audubon's Brandon Hill, among others.

But there will be no shortage of star power at quarterback in 2010.

Martin led Cherokee to the Group 4 championship this season as a junior. He passed for 13 touchdowns. Three of his favorite targets - wide receiver Drake Rodgers, tight end Connor Stahl and running back Mike Zeuli - will be back, too.

Winslow Township junior Bill Belton might be South Jersey's most highly recruited player next season. He passed for 2,200 yards this season and 14 touchdowns and ran for another 700 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Gloucester Catholic junior Cody Brown passed for 2,130 yards and 21 touchdowns this season, while Pennsville junior Ken Emmons passed for 1,744 yards and 20 touchdowns and also ran for 13 touchdowns.

Washington Township junior Nick Valori completed 70 percent of his passes (157-for-224) in the Minutemen's first season in the no-huddle, spread offense. He threw for 1,839 yards and 18 touchdowns with just three interceptions, and returns a top target in junior wide receiver Kordel McInnis (31 catches).

Paul VI junior Khaalig Burroughs passed for 1,262 yards and 15 touchdowns. He returns all of his favorite targets, including wide receivers Jakwail Bailey (7 touchdown catches) and Chris Hutton.

Holy Spirit junior Joe Callahan threw 12 touchdowns passes, while Kingsway's talented junior Rondell Gilmore led the Dragons to 72 points in victories in the final two games of the season.

The Year of the Quarterback? That was supposed to be 2009.

But 2010 might just be an encore.