Jaylen DeCoteau plays football for St. Augustine but lives in rival Williamstown
The standout senior lives just two minutes from Williamstown High School, site of Friday night's showdown.
For a while, Jaylen DeCoteau was a Williamstown guy in address only.
He didn't grow up in the town. He didn't attend the public schools. He didn't play youth sports with any of the top athletes who were on their way to Williamstown High School.
DeCoteau moved to South Jersey from North Brunswick as a high school freshman. He has spent his career at St. Augustine Prep in Richland, making friends with his schoolmates and teammates at the private school as opposed to anybody from the neighborhood or other parts of Monroe Township.
So, when DeCoteau runs onto the field for Friday night's West Jersey Football League showdown between Top 10 powers St. Augustine Prep (6-2) and host Williamstown (8-0), he might feel like a stranger in his hometown.
But, he says it's a little more complicated than that.
"It's going to be emotional," DeCoteau said. "To me, it's really cool to be playing against my hometown team."
DeCoteau, a senior defensive back and wide receiver, has helped rally St. Augustine (6-2) from a slow start to the No. 3 team in the Inquirer Top 25.
The Hermits have won five in a row. DeCoteau, a Kent State recruit as a defensive back, has been a big-play man on both sides of the football, with six touchdown catches, two interceptions, and 11 defended passes.
"Great kid, No. 1," St. Augustine coach Pete Lancetta said of DeCoteau. "When we had a lot of changes going on around here last year, he was one of the kids who helped keep things together.
"And he's just a terrific athlete. He makes plays on both sides of the football for us."
The 6-foot, 180-pound DeCoteau has made the most of limited opportunities as an offensive player. In the Hermits' balanced attack, DeCoteau has caught just 17 passes, but they have gained 339 yards (19.9-yards per reception). He also has carried the ball eight times for 61 yards and a touchdown.
"We're a team that likes to spread the ball around on offense, and I'm fine with that," DeCoteau said.
DeCoteau is relatively new to the defensive side. He said he always played offense except for one brief period in youth football.
"When I was in fourth or fifth grade, they had me at defensive end for a while," DeCoteau said. "But I was always offense. I always thought I was going to be play wide receiver in college."
Even at the start of last season, DeCoteau thought of himself as strictly an offensive player.
"I remember [2017 seniors] Shamere Collins and Xavier File saying the team needed me on defense, and I was like, 'I'm not a defensive guy,' " DeCoteau said.
That changed in last season's game against Williamstown, when injuries forced DeCoteau on the field at defensive back.
He thought he would hate it.
He loved it.
"Coach was like, 'Jaylen, go in,' '' DeCoteau said. "I owned the moment. That really got me into liking defense a lot more. I hadn't play D at all my whole life.
"Now I love it. I love the hitting."
Friday night's clash for the WJFL American Division title will pit two of South Jersey's top defenses. Williamstown has allowed just 36 points all season (4.5 per game), and St. Augustine has allowed just 33 in its five-game winning streak (6.6 per game).
For DeCoteau, there's the added element of his proximity to the Braves' home field.
"I live two minutes from the school," DeCoteau said.
DeCoteau didn't grow up with Williamstown senior stars J.C. Collins and Wade Inge, but they've played together with the Next Level Greats 7-on-7 travel team.
"We've roomed together on road trips," Collins said.
DeCoteau also has seen Williamstown guys around town.
"It's been cool getting to know Williamstown guys," DeCoteau said. "It's been cool getting to know guys in the town I live in. I see them in stores, see them in Wawa."
DeCoteau is a St. Augustine Prep guy through and through. But he admits there will be something special about playing perhaps the most anticipated regular-season game of his senior year on a field that is just a long pass from his house.
"If you're from Williamstown and you go to St. Augustine, you're always going to want to beat Williamstown," DeCoteau said. "I know it's going to mean a lot to me. That's my hometown team."
Inside the Game
St. Augustine (6-2) at Williamstown (8-0)
Friday at 7 p.m.
Rankings: St. Augustine is No. 3 in the Inquirer Top 25. Williamstown is No. 2.
American dream: Both teams are 4-0 in WJFL American play, so the winner will clinch outright possession of the division crown.
Playoff push: The game on the last weekend before the playoffs will provide an opportunity for both teams to enter their respective state tournaments with momentum, as St. Augustine looks to strengthen its case for a high seed in Non-Public 4, and Williamstown tries to lock down the top seed in South Jersey 5.
Coaches: Pete Lancetta is 221-67-2 overall, including 11-7 at St. Augustine. Frank Fucetola is 166-97 overall, including 147-85 at Williamstown
Coaching connection: Fucetola went 19-12 in three seasons at St. Augustine in the mid-1990s.
Williamstown players to watch: Senior quarterback J.C. Collins (977 passing yards, nine touchdowns; 612 rushing yards, nine touchdowns); senior running back Wade Inge (623 rushing yards, 11 touchdowns); junior defensive lineman Aaron Lewis (65 tackles, five sacks).
St. Augustine players to watch: Senior quarterback Chris Allen (801 passing yards, nine touchdowns); freshman running back Nasir Hill (700 rushing yards, four touchdowns); senior linebacker Joe Bonczek (94 tackles).
Pick: Williamstown, 14-13.