Football Team Ends Season Among the Top Teams in Group 2 and South Jersey

Photo courtesy of The Buccaneer
Junior Rashad Raymond explodes through the middle of the line against West Deptford on Homecoming Night.

Ron Errigo and from Staff Reports

After graduating a 2017 senior class that had almost 20 seniors who had won two consecutive league titles and won 24 games in three years, one had to expect this year’s Cinnaminson High School (CHS) football team would enter the season in rebuilding mode.

After all, the Pirates would be starting a sophomore quarterback, Shawn Ruffin, and have new faces all over the field with only nine seniors returning for this season.  One had to think the lofty heights head coach Mario Patrizi’s teams had reached in the past would be unthinkable this year.

And, after beating a very good Willingboro team on opening night but losing their next two opponents in Sterling and Holy Cross, the naysayers would have thought they were right.  But, a funny thing happen to this year’s Cinnaminson Pirates football team.

They came together and rebounded in a huge way, running off six consecutive victories and making themselves the talk of South Jersey with some eye-popping wins.  Yes, Mario Patrizi and his Cinnaminson football team established themselves as a top team in South Jersey and one that may not be going anywhere for a long time after an 8-3 season in 2017 that returns a lot of potential in 2018.

Ruffin believes a lot of this has to do with the attitude of the team with one another.

“In my opinion I feel as our team is one big family. We all see each other as our own blood brothers. We spend a lot of time outside of practice and games, which builds a lot of chemistry between us.”

After losing their explosive ways in being held to 12 points in two games during the Sterling and Holy Cross losses, Cinnaminson went back and drew up a new game plan and it resulted in the team averaging 35 points per game and giving up zero points over those games.  The Pirates put an emphasis on the running game and it worked wonders.

Entering the West Deptford game, very few gave the Pirates a chance to slow the highly ranked Eagles, who had not lost in 18 games, or nearly two years.  They had won 29 of their last 30 games total and handily defeated most of the teams in the process.  The only team that West Deptford struggled with was CHS the previous year when the Pirates challenged them in a controversial 14-6 West Deptford win that was filled with questionable calls against CHS.  The game would mark the lowest point total of the season and the lowest margin of victory for the regular season for the Eagles.

CHS jumped out to a 14-0 lead and ran the score to 21-0 in the third quarter and hung on to win the 2017 Homecoming game, 21-7, sending shock waves around the state for a team that was ranked among the top 20 in the entire state, all groups.

The Pirates followed that up with a 50-7  thrashing of Bordentown before a playoff matchup with Camden awaited.  Much like West Deptford, Camden was on a roll, winning six games in a row, including beating Group 5 Rancocas Valley, the top team in Burlington County.  Camden entered as the second seed in Group 2 South Jersey and CHS was seventh.  But, Cinnaminson did not bat an eye and came out and throttled Camden, defeating them 28-12 behind the rushing attack of junior Rashad Raymond and a stifling defense led by senior linebacker Kai Leibfried.

Cinnaminson met its match in the next round of the playoffs with sixth-seeded Haddonfield, dropping a 35-8 game before handing Delran their eighth straight Thanksgiving setback in a 47-7 rout to clinch a share of the West Jersey Liberty Division championship.

The team was lead this year by a healthy Rashad Raymond, who returned for his junior year and set the entire county on notice that he was back and ready to return to the same promise he showed as a freshman and early in his sophomore year.  Raymond averaged over eight yards per carry as a freshman and scored five touchdowns.  His sophomore campaign was scarred by injuries, but this season he busted out with 1376 yards and 15 touchdowns.  Thus far for his career at Cinnaminson, Rashad has run for 2429 yards and 28 touchdowns.

Ruffin took over the play calling for Cinnaminson and was a major bright spot for Patrizi and his troops, throwing for 979 yards and 11 touchdowns.  Senior Kevin Shoch ran for 239 yards and four touchdown while also catching two more scores and 222 yards.

Ruffin learned a great deal from this season, but most was about the approach to practice and the every day grind of football.

“it’s always best to give 100 percent. Giving your 100 percent all the time, especially in our football games and practices. The way you practice is the way you will play when it’s game time. It’s especially important to give 100% in practice. It’s the best way to prepare for the big game,” Ruffin finished.

Next year, CHS will return more than half of its starters on offense and defense in what should be an exciting year for the Pirates.  If they take Ruffin’s stance on preparation, they could do some major damage.