Jon Caputo watched a video of his Buena Regional High School football team in a preseason scrimmage last year.
The second-year coach sees a much different team this season.
With seven starters back on offense and seven back on defense, the Chiefs return a number of experienced players from last season’s team that finished 2-8.
Many of Buena’s returnees started as sophomores last season. The Chiefs are far ahead of where they were at this point last year.
“Expectations are understood,” Caputo said. “The kids understand what we want to get accomplished. We practice a lot more efficiently. The players were on the field for a lot of snaps (last year), and I don’t think there’s anything more important than that.”
Buena will rely on one of the region’s top running backs in junior Luv’Uan Scott, who rushed for 805 yards on 152 carries last season.
“We know what he’s good at after having him for a year,” Caputo said. “He’s looked great.”
But the Chiefs will be more diverse this season as they also return senior running back Robert Bunton (77 carries for 357 yards last season).
Quadir Albright, a 5-5, 150-pound freshman, is also expected to contribute in the backfield.
“It keeps teams off balance more not just having one guy carry the ball,” Caputo said. “We have to make defenses defend our team and not a player.”
Junior Eric Raineer (three touchdown passes last season) is back at quarterback.
“He does the little things right,” Caputo said, “and I think he’ll put us in position to win football games.”
Buena will have good size on the offensive and defensive lines with Darryl Gifford, a 6-7, 290-pound senior, and 6-5, 230-pound defensive end Tray Barbary.
Caputo believes the Chiefs have the talent to make the playoffs.
But they could use some early wins to build confidence. Buena opens Friday at Vineland and then plays at Ocean City the next weekend.
“The biggest thing for us is knowing how to win,” Caputo said. “This crew has been around for some tough times. We have to get over that hump and believe that we can win. That’s probably our biggest obstacle ahead.”
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