2017 In Review: The Braves with mostly underclassmen were 5-5, playing a very tough schedule for a Group 1 school, losing to the likes of Holy Spirit, Absegami, Cedar Creek, Highland Regional, and Pleasantville – all larger schools. They scored 227 points for a 22.7 average, while allowing 240 for a 24.0 average. Wins against larger schools included Middle Township, Oakcrest, and Collingswood.
Graduation Losses: Nobody playing college sports.
Offense: Buena runs a multiple Wing-T with option and return eight starters and a couple of others who started games. The incumbent quarterback is junior Luke Santiago (5-9, 160) and all three running backs return. The fullback is senior Shawn Rice (5-11, 220) and the halfbacks are junior Byron Spellman (6-1, 205) and senior Jaden Roberts (5-7, 175), who is currently injured for a few games. Senior Chris Doughty (6-0, 170), a defensive starter, will take his place.
The wide receivers return senior Jared Armitage (6-3, 175), who missed much of the year with an injury and he will be paired with junior TJ Jacobs (6-1, 195).
Three starters return to the line in seniors Amir Walker (6-1, 285) at right tackle, Riyaun Coleman (5-8, 175) at right guard, and Branden Perez (6-1, 250) at left guard. Playing center will be junior Sam Drogo (5-8, 190), while left tackle will be junior Anthony Grieco (5-10, 295), who started twice. Also in the mix along the line is junior Gavin Archuleta (5-9, 185), who also started a couple of games.
Defense: The Braves play a 3-3 stack and return ten starters and another who started. Perez and sophomore Antonio Thompson (6-1, 205) return at end, while Walker is back at nose guard and Grieco will spell him during games.
Coleman returns at middle linebacker and Archuleta is back on the strong side. Roberts returns on the weak side, but is sidelined with an injury, with Drogo and senior Kareem Young (5-9, 175) filling in. Also in the mix somewhere is sophomore Hunter Suter (5-10, 170).
In the secondary, Doughty returns at one strong safety and the other will be Jacobs; Rice started last year and he will get time. Santiago returns at free safety and Spellman is a returning starter at cornerback, moving from strong safety. Filling out the secondary is Armitage at corner, who started when he was healthy.
Special Teams: Jacobs returns at punter and the kicker is sophomore Cael Aretz. Spellman and Santiago are the return men.
Friday, 9/7, Haddon Township at home, 6 PM
Friday, 9/14, Middle Township at home, 6 PM
Friday, 9/21, at Lower Cape May, 7 PM
Friday, 9/28, at Lindenwold, 7 PM
Friday, 10/5, Gloucester City at home, 6 PM
Friday, 10/12, Clayton at home, 6 PM
Friday, 10/19, at Pleasantville, 7 PM
Saturday, 10/27, at Gloucester Catholic, 11 AM
Recruits: Armitage is a D2/D3 candidate, while Rice, Perez, and Walker will play somewhere.
The top junior is Spellman, who can go 1-A or 1-AA, depending on his season and the sophomore class has Thompson being at least 1-AA, possibly going higher.
Concerns: Depth and staying healthy because these are the lowest numbers Buena has had, with 24 players from sophomores to seniors. The freshmen make it 36.
Coach’s Comments: “We’re excited about the year. We have a seasoned team with game experience, which is important in high school football. We think we can compete.” – Head Coach Jonathan Caputo