Deptford Township High School wrapped up its best season in a dozen years on Thanksgiving when it held on for a 13-12 win over Glassboro. Senior Khion Smith led the way with two touchdowns to finish his high school career.
Five days later, the board of education accepted the resignation of Spartans head football coach Steve Scuderi.
It was quite the turnaround in a few short days and a gut punch for Deptford, which had established some momentum with its football program in 2018 only to be looking for a new coach for the fourth time since 2010.
“It was a little surprising,” Deptford Township High School athletic director Irv McFarland III said. “It kind of caught me off guard because we hadn’t discussed it. (Scuderi) said it was for a personal reason that came up last minute.”
Scuderi’s resignation was effective on Nov. 30. He went 9-12 in two seasons at Deptford, but helped guide the team to its first winning season since 2006 this fall, when the Spartans won five of their first six games and clinched a spot in the Group 3 playoffs (where they lost to Delsea in the first round).
“The timing is never good,” McFarland said. “But with having a winning record and turning some things around I think it helps make it attractive for coaches moving forward.”
McFarland said the search for a new coach is ongoing. The job is first being opened up to candidates within the district and, if necessary, will be posted for outside candidates, too, in the not-too-distant future.
Deptford’s football team hasn’t had a coach stick around for more than three years since Al Orio’s tenure (2004-2010) ended eight years ago. Scuderi replaced Chris Crowley (2014-16), who replaced Mike Blackiston (2011-2013).
“Back in the day you had long-time coaches that were in one place for forever, but that trend has been changing,” McFarland said. “Being a football coach is a demanding job. There’s a lot of turnover. Not everyone can stick around for years and years.”
For Deptford, it might not be a terrible idea to find a candidate with ties to the Spartans program and community as they attempt to build off of a successful 2018 and find stability moving forward.
“I think that’s one of our main goals, somebody that is going to be community driven and here for the betterment of the program long term,” McFarland said.
One of Scuderi’s top assistants found a new job pretty quickly: his father, Dennis Scuderi Sr., who worked as Deptford’s defensive coordinator for the last two seasons, was announced as the new head football coach at Paul VI High School on Thursday.