The Ocean City High School football team has reason for some cautious optimism this fall.

The Red Raiders, according to coach Kevin Smith, did the hard work in the weight room in the offseason, and have a good attitude.

“We have a good group of seniors,” Smith said. “It’s the guys’ third year with me and the system. I think we’ll go as they go. This group is more of a team than in the last few years.”

Ocean City was 2-8 in 2011 and 3-7 last fall in Smith’s first two years as head coach.

“Without question, the biggest thing we knew we had to do was the weight room,” Smith said. “We knew we had to get stronger, and they put in the time. We preached the team concept, that it’s not just about themselves.”

Historically, Ocean City has usually favored a ball-control offense, and tailback Frank Woolley looks to continue that tradition. Woolley rushed for more than 1,100 yards last season.

“We definitely want to run the ball first,” Smith said. “I think we’ll be able to throw the ball better too, because Joe Keyes will be in his second year at quarterback. He’s playing with more confidence now.”

Started at The Press in 1993 as an Ocean County reporter. Moved to the copy desk in 1994 until taking over as editor of At The Shore in 1995. Became deputy sports editor in 2004 and was promoted to sports editor in 2007.