The Mainland Regional High School boys basketball team may not have the depth to match some of the Cape-Atlantic League's more seasoned rosters.
However, first-year coach Dan Williams isn't discouraged. The Mustangs will compete.
"The talent is there in the starting lineup to be competitive," Williams said. "We're a couple of good bounces and breaks here and there from being very competitive, I would think."
A program that has struggled in recent seasons, Mainland is steadily improving. Among those returning for the Mustangs is 6-foot-5 junior forward Darius Jerkins. Mainland will count on some relatively new faces as well.
Junior James Brennan played for the team last season but didn't see much time. He grew several inches in the offseason - he's now 6-foot-3 - and put on about 20 pounds of muscle, Williams said. Brennan will play multiple positions for the Mustangs.
A Cape-Atlantic League division title may not be in Mainland's reach just yet. The Mustangs are in an extremely tough American Division that features both Atlantic City and Holy Spirit.
Although its his first season at the helm, Williams is more than familiar with Mainland basketball. He was a standout player at the school in the late 1980s and led the Mustangs to two Cape-Atlantic League championships.
He served as an assistant for the boys basketball team from 2005-2009 under then coach Jon Evans. Williams then switched sides and spent the past three years as an assistant for the girls team. He replaces Tom McKeever, who compiled a 16-55 record in three seasons.
"It's a reasonably young team. They had only been with their previous coach for a little bit of time, so it hasn't been a real difficult transition."
Contact Brittany Grugan:
League: Cape-Atlantic League American
Group: South Jersey Group IV
Coach:Dan Williams (first season)
2011-12 Record: 8-18
2012-13 Prediction: Improving
Key Players: Darius Jerkins, Jr., 6-5, F; Kenny Randall, Sr., 6-3, F; Dionis Gonzalez, Sr., 5-9, G; Ted Mazzeio, Sr., 6-1, G/F
Top Newcomers: James Brennan, Jr., 6-3, F/G; Drew Riska, Jr., 5-10, G; Frank Vincent, Jr., 6-2, F.
Dec. 14: at Holy Spirit, 7 p.m.
Dec. 18: vs. Hammonton, 5:30 p.m.
Dec. 20: vs. Vineland, 5:30 p.m.
Dec. 22: at Collingswood, 12:30 p.m.
Dec. 29: vs. Penns Grove (Boardwalk Classic in Wildwood), 3:45 p.m.
Dec. 30: Boardwalk Classic in Wildwood, TBD
Jan. 4: vs. Millville, 5:30 p.m.
Jan. 8: at Absegami, 7 p.m.
Jan. 11: at Atlantic City, 7 p.m.
Jan. 15: vs. Egg Harbor Township, 5:30 p.m.
Jan. 17: vs. Lower Cape May Regional, 5:30 p.m.
Jan. 19: at St. Joseph, 1:30 p.m.
Jan. 22: vs. Holy Spirit, 5:30 p.m.
Jan. 25: vs. Buena Regional, 5:30 p.m.
Jan. 26: at Cherry Hill West, 1 p.m.
Jan. 29: at Vineland, 6 p.m.
Feb. 1: at Millville, 4 p.m.
Feb. 5: vs. Absegami, 5:30 p.m.
Feb. 7: vs. Atlantic City, 5:30 p.m.
Feb. 12: at Egg Harbor Township, 5:30 p.m.
Feb. 14: at St. Anthony's, 7 p.m.
Feb. 16: vs. Ocean City, 1 p.m.
Feb. 20: at Pinelands Regional, 6:30 p.m.
Feb. 25: at Holy Cross, 7 p.m.
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