Coach Tony DeRosa sometimes has to tell Stephan Thomas to relax in practice. There will be no slowing Thomas when the season starts.

The running back and defensive back leads the Egg Harbor Township High School football team. Thomas emerged as one of the Cape-Atlantic League's top players with 11 touchdowns last season. He returned two kickoffs for touchdowns.

"In my opinion, Stephan could be one of the next great skill guys to come out of this program," DeRosa said.

"But what separates him from other guys we've had in the past is his heart. This kid lives and breathes EHT football."

The Eagles need that type of dedication if they're to come close to last season's success.

Egg Harbor Township won a school single-season record 11 games. The Eagles won the Cape-Atlantic League American Conference.

They reached the South Jersey Group IV final, but lost 14-0 to Cherokee.

EHT did all that while playing just one home game because its field was being renovated.

The Eagles aren't satisfied with 2009. The Eagles return enough standouts in seniors Thomas, Kevin Marquez and Dominic Moody.

"This is their year now," DeRosa said. "They want to make their mark now."

Thomas will line up at a variety of positions on offense.

"We want to put him where's he comfortable to make plays," DeRosa said. "You're going to see him all over the field."

Marquez, a 6-1, 225-pound linebacker and wide receiver, also made some key plays during last season's postseason, including running for a first down on a fake punt to help the Eagles beat Toms River East in the South Jersey Group IV semifinals.

Moody starred at linebacker last season. He also will see action at fullback this year.

Twins Alex and Alan Banaga lead the offensive and defensive lines.

"They were crushing people throughout our playoff run," DeRosa said.

John Kopistecki takes over at quarterback. Wide receiver Doug Bolden, who saw time last season, should be one of his top receivers.

PLAYOFF APPEARANCES: 10

LAST APPEARANCE: 2009

PLAYOFF RECORD: 8-8

CHAMPIONSHIPS: 2

LEAGUE/GROUP: Cape-Atlantic League American/South Jersey Group IV

COACH: Tony DeRosa (74-50, 13 seasons)

2009 RECORD: 11-1

2010 PREDICTION: Contender. The Eagles graduated several standouts, but playmakers Stephan Thomas, Dominic Moody and Kevin Marquez return.

GAME TO WATCH:

Friday vs. Absegami.

EHT gets tested in its season opener as it meets an Absegami team expected to be one of southern New Jersey’s best.

TOP RETURNEES:

Stephan Thomas, Sr., RB/DB, 6-0,190, Kevin Marquez, Sr. WR/LB, 6-1,225; Dominic Moody, Sr. FB/LB, 5-10, 210; Doug Bolden, WR/DB, 6-0,160; Alan Banaga, OL/DL, 6-0, 255; Alex Banaga, OL/DL, 6-0, 260; Dion Harris, DL 5-10, 255; Corry Treadway, DL. 5-7,220

KEY NEWCOMERS:

Tyler Waller, DL, 6-0, 225; Jordan Newsomes, RB/DB, 5-7, 175 RB/DB