Saved from closure, Mater Dei football paying it forward

Saved from closure, Mater Dei football paying it forward

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Saved from closure, Mater Dei football paying it forward

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First-year head coach Shannon Hoadley works with football players at Mater Dei Prep.

First-year head coach Shannon Hoadley works with football players at Mater Dei Prep.

No football team in the Shore Conference appreciates training camp more than Mater Dei Prep.

Why? The Seraphs nearly didn’t have a team. In February the school was slotted for closure due to financial difficulties before supporters raised $1.5 million in two months.

“We talk about it all the time: We’re not just playing for ourselves this year,” said first-year head coach Shannon Hoadley, at Mater Dei alum who served as an assistant at the school for the past five years. “We’re playing for the community. We understand that.”

To that end, Hoadley asked his players volunteer the St. Mary Parish fair in Middletown this summer. They worked food stands and game booths and served on the clean-up crew.

“I told the kids to pay it forward,” Hoadley said, noting that the response was tremendous. “If I heard it once, I heard it 15 times: People who had never been to a game promised me that they would come to support the football team this fall.”

2015 Shore Conference scholastic football team schedules

They should see a promising squad. The Seraphs return most of their linemen, plus Division I prospect Eddie Lewis at wide receiver, from an 8-3 campaign. With 40 players in camp, only four of whom are seniors, Hoadley is excited about the future. But he has a message for the present.

“Don’t take it for granted,” he reminds his players, “that you have your home back.”

Staff writer Jerry Carino: jcarino@gannettnj.com .

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