Donetae McKinnon didn't have to wait long to find out he could play high school football.
The standout quarterback, running back and defensive back started as a freshman for Buena Regional High School.
"I was scared," he said.
"I didn't know what to expect. But I got out there for the first game and started hitting. I said, ‘I can hang with these guys.' "
McKinnon wants to make the most out of his last high school football season.
"It went by fast," he said of his scholastic career. "This is my last chance to make my mark on Buena football."
The Chiefs should be a Cape-Atlantic League and South Jersey Group II contender. Buena returns eight starters on offense.
McKinnon took over at quarterback last season. The 5-foot-10, 195-pounder rushed for 713 yards and threw for 181.
He feels much more comfortable at the position this year.
"I think I'm better than last year," he said. "I know the position more."
Opposing defenses just can't focus on McKinnon, however. Running back Michael Haygood runs the 40-yard dash in 4.55 seconds and averaged 6.6 yards per carry last season.
"He's a shifty back," McKinnon said of Haygood. "He has a lot of moves."
Sawyer Brown steps in at quarterback when McKinnon lines up at running back.
The defense is inexperienced, but linebacker Eric Hensel averaged nine tackles per game last season.
"He runs around and hits a lot," McKinnon said of Hensel.
Buena nearly upset St. Augustine in last season's Thanksgiving weekend game, but lost 21-19. Buena has come close to beating several quality teams during McKinnon's career, but for the most part that signature win has eluded the Chiefs.
"We're hungry," McKinnon said. "We've reviewed the game and seen what we did wrong down the stretch. We're working on finishing games."
PLAYOFF APPEARANCES: 13
LAST APPEARANCE: 2009
PLAYOFF RECORD: 6-12
LEAGUE/GROUP: Cape-Atlantic League United/South Jersey Group II
COACH: Paul Callahan (26-33, six seasons)
2009 RECORD: 4-6
2010 PREDICTION: Contender. The Chiefs return eight starters on offense.
GAME TO WATCH
Saturday at St. Joseph.
It’s the season opener, but this game will go a long way toward deciding the CAL United winner
Donetae McKinnon, Sr., QB/RB/S, 5-10, 195; RJ May, Sr., TE/DE, 6-2, 200; Rick Fifer, Sr., C/DL, 6-2, 265; Michael Haygood, Sr., RB/DB, 5-7, 155; Eric Hensel, Sr., OG/LB, 6-0, 205; Myles Green, Jr., OT/DL, 5-9, 235; Tyler Parent, Sr., WR/S, 6-0, 180; Rajhon White, Jr., OG/DL, 5-9, 220; Rashan Austin, Sr., RB/CB, 5-9, 170; Clarence King, Sr., RB/LB, 5-9, 185; Stephen May, Jr., OT/DL, 6-0, 205; Sawyer Brown, Sr., QB/S/K, 5-10, 160; Terrell Garland, Sr., RB/CB, 5-7, 155; Phil Guilford, Sr., WR/S, 6-0, 160; Nick DeFeo, Jr., RB/LB, 5-8, 180; Dom DeFoor, So., TE/DE, 5-11, 180; Dustin Endicott, So., RB/DE, 5-10, 165; Hykeem Martin, Sr., OG/NG 5-9, 205.
KEY NEWCOMERS: Kaeshan Deal, So., WR/CB, 6-0, 170; Kyle Norton, So., QB/S, 5-10, 150; Shaun Bowie, So., RB/LB, 5-9, 170; Sinquan McClellan, Sr., WR/S, 5-9, 155; Matt Vilimas, Sr., WR/DE, 6-0, 175; Billy Ward, So., QB/CB, 5-6, 130; Justin Gonzalez, Jr., WR/DE, 6-0, 160; Scott Piwowski, So., RB/LB, 5-10, 160; Mike Hill, Jr., TE/DE, 6-0, 180; Quad’re Stephens, So., OG/DE, 5-9, 175; Ty Warren, So., C/DL, 5-9, 265; Brandon Serrano, Jr, OL/DL, 6-0, 235; Mahmud Ziyadeh, Sr., OT/DT, 5-10, 239; Noah Repko, Jr., OT/DT, 6-0, 220; Kedar Dockery, Sr., OG/DT, 5-10, 210; Darryl Guilford, So., OT/DT, 6-4, 265; Jonathan Villafuerte, Sr., TE/DL, 6-0, 180; Nate Neiderhoffer, So., WR/CB, 5-9, 145; Trayvond Barbary, So., WR/DE, 6-4, 200.