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The Pulse: Oakcrest football

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By DAVE O’SULLIVAN Publisher The Oakcrest High School football team is in a rebuilding year, and although the Falcons may be winless so far this season, head coachthe pulse in-story logo for web Chuck Smith said his players are working harder than ever and by no means have packed it in. The Falcons have some good young athletes on the offensive side of the ball with the likes of freshman quarterback Kendall Elliott and sophomore tailback Terrance Smith, and wide receivers Shakur Mozelle and LaShawn Elliott have been contributors on the outside. Smith said the key for his team going forward this season is to put some consistency together with the talent that is on the roster. “They are staying focused and fighting through it. They are practicing hard and doing what we are asking of them all the time,” Smith said. “We’ve been kind of in a rebuilding process the last couple of years. We see the light at the end of the tunnel, it’s just a matter of getting there. Oakcrest freshman quarterback Kendall Elliott has passed for 533 yards and four touchdowns this season and also has rushed for 140 yards. (Glory Days Magazine photo/Dave O'Sullivan) Oakcrest freshman quarterback Kendall Elliott has passed for 533 yards and four touchdowns this season and also has rushed for 140 yards. (Glory Days Magazine photo/Dave O’Sullivan) “It’s a good group of kids, they really are. We’re looking to turn this thing around the second half of the year. We have some tough games coming up, but the kids are positive.” Oakcrest (0-5) would love to get in the win column tonight as they host Mainland (1-3) and go into their bye week with some momentum. The schedule makers didn’t make it easy on the Falcons this season. They’ve already had to play at Egg Harbor Township then schools such as Hammonton, Cedar Creek, Atlantic City and St. Joseph. And they still have Millville and Holy Spirit, two of the best teams in South Jersey, before a Thanksgiving tilt with Absegami. Holy Spirit is ranked No. 5 in the state in this week’s poll on NJ.com. “We have to continue to improve, more so on the defensive side. We’ve done a pretty good job progressing through the year offensively,” Smith said. “Defensively, we have to get a lot better in the second half of the season to win some of these games.” Oakcrest’s defensive unit has had its work cut out for it, facing two of the premier athletes in South Jersey in Cedar Creek’s Ahmir Mitchell and St. Joseph’s Sa’Laam Horne. The key will be stopping the run game and being able to get off the field on third downs. Through five games the Falcons have given up seven yards per rush and opposing offenses are converting 43 percent of their third downs. The Falcons did play well against Cedar Creek, limiting the Pirates to 19 points in a 19-14 loss in Week 3 and will need more efforts like that going forward. Guys such as A.J. Davis, Brandon Roberson, Pasquale Ferrucci and William Fish lead the defensive unit, combining for 95 tackles. “That was the best effort that we’ve had, but we have to be more consistent with following that up with a better effort,” Smith said of the Cedar Creek game. “(Fish) is a very good ballplayer. We’ve moved him from the outside to the inside, and he’s just a great sideline-to-sideline player. I’ve been watching him since he was in seventh grade,” Smith said. “He’s a tough kid and has a lot of football instincts. The things that you can’t coach, he has.” Smith said the goal for the Falcons is to get some momentum going toward the Thanksgiving showdown with Absegami. “We’re taking it one game at a time and we want to come out with a winning record in the second half of the season,” Smith said. “When we hit that game, if things go the way we hope they do, that will be a huge game for us.” Contact Dave O’Sullivan: sully@acglorydays.com; on Twitter @GDsullysays.

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