WEST DEPTFORD – Pete Orio took the snap, quickly surveyed the field as he sprinted left or right and went on to deliver pinpoint passes.
On this night in the West Deptford 7-on-7 Passing League, the senior quarterback would complete 18-of-20 for four touchdowns in a victory over Triton.
“I think I threw 19 passes all of last season,” he said with a laugh.
“It’s a great opportunity to work on some of the spread stuff that we don’t work on too much during the season.”
It’s odd to put West Deptford and passing in the same sentence. The Eagles have won seven sectional championships under veteran coach Clyde Folsom by running the football. They went 12-0 last season en route to the South Jersey Group 2 title by rushing for 4,612 yards.
Passing yards were a mere 322.
But playing on warm summer nights where putting the ball in the air is the only option, Orio has shown enough that maybe the offensive strategy will change a bit this fall.
Considering the Eagles had three 1,000-yard running backs a year ago, there were very few opportunities to toss the ball around. They just didn’t have to.
With junior Ken Lim back as the team’s only experienced running threat, it’s likely Orio will get to show off his arm a little more often.
“The intention coming in (this season) and in offseason plans are to throw the ball,” Folsom said. “We have receivers, an outstanding tight end in (Jason) Collier and we have the backs out of the backfield. We’re capable of throwing and catching the football, and we’ll need to this year to be more efficient.
“(Orio) knows the system. Having learned and won in the system, obviously we expect a great deal from him from a leadership standpoint and execution. There’s no uncertainty in terms of where the ball should be thrown or the flow and mesh of the backfield. We expect everything to be a step faster and done a little bit closer to perfection.”
A transfer from Kingsway a year ago, Orio made his debut as the starting QB against Sterling in the fourth game. He would complete 12-of-20 passes for 274 yards and four TDs in nine starts to help West Deptford to its first unbeaten season since 2012.
On the ground, he ran for 203 yards and two scores.
Heading into his final campaign, Orio is on a mission.
“I’m focused on being more of a leader,” he said. “The seniors last year did a great job of making sure the underclassmen knew their role and the kids who weren’t playing knew their role, too. I want to step up and be that leader this year and get this team back to where we were.
“At West Deptford, every rep and every practice needs to be perfect. Coming in this year, I’m more prepared and understand things more.”
West Deptford opens the 2017 season at Audubon on Sept. 9.
“Last year was a big year for me learning the offense and I want to lead the team more this year,” Orio added. “I just want to get better each day.”
The defending South Jersey Group 2 champion, West Deptford opens its season on Sept. 9 at Audubon in a West Jersey Football League matchup.