The Absegami High School football team just isn’t ready.
The Braves weren’t ready to be a playoff team this season or beat a team like Hammonton on Friday night.
Absegami turned in a lackluster performance in a game it desperately needed to win to have any chance of making the Group IV South playoffs.
Hammonton exhibited why it is among the best teams in South Jersey with a 33-7 win at Robert Capoferri Field.
The loss ends the Braves’ two-game winning streak, and gives them a 4-4 record. Hammonton improves to 7-1 and secures a No. 2 seed in the Group III South tournament.
“We didn’t hit anyone, we were misaligned and we didn’t cover the things we went over all week,” Absegami coach Dennis Scuderi Jr. said. “It’s frustrating. At the end of the day we have to find a way to play better in big games. I will take full responsibility.”
The Braves’ four losses have come against teams that qualified for the playoffs. The Blue Devils were coming off its first loss of the season and had the extra motivation of not only getting back in the win column, but also securing a high seed in next week's playoffs.
Even when healthy, the Braves may not have the arsenal to compete with the Blue Devils, one of South Jersey's most balanced and consistent teams. They showed it against Absegami.
Hammonton scored on all four of its first-half possessions to take a 26-0 lead at the half. Hammonton running back David Williams scored twice, and quarterback Christian Mortellite connected with Bobby Barbieri twice before halftime.
“They are a good team, and a well-coached team,” Absegami running back Tyler Bing said. “They are physical and they play hard every play.”
The Absegami defense entered the night giving up just seven points in its last two games, but the Braves found themselves down 12-0 with 3:08 left in the first quarter.
Scuderi was not pleased with the team’s efforts early in the game.
“At halftime we talked about having fire, having some fight and not quitting,” the Braves coach said. “I don’t think we did a good job when they went up six and then 12. With our offense we are never out of the game, but I thought we packed it in a little bit. You can’t do that, especially against good teams.”
The Braves played better in the second half.
Mortellite was 9-for-10 for 150 yards, but the one pass he didn’t complete ended up in the hands of Absegami defensive back Emil Robinson, who returned the pick all the way to the Hammonton 18-yard line early in the second half.
Three plays later Absegami's Mike Dolan patiently waited for a receiver to get open before finding the left sidelines open for a 12-yard touchdown run.
Bing also rushed for 86 of his game-high 150 yards in the second half. However, Absegami only found the end zone once.
The Braves defense allowed one more score, a third David Williams’ touchdown run, but came away with two turnovers.
Absegami’s next opponent will be determined later this weekend. The Braves will play Friday night in an NJSIAA consolation round game against another non-playoff team.