The Bridgeton High School football team returns 10 starters.
That translates into 20 returning starters for the Bulldogs. All 10 play both offense and defense.
"It's the way it is," Bridgeton coach Dave Ellen said. "They know they have to work hard in practice and at conditioning."
Bridgeton finished 6-5 last season and reached the South Jersey Group III semifinals. The Bulldogs should again contend for a playoff spot and the Cape-Atlantic League National Conference title.
The 10 starters are also a year older and a year stronger.
"They have another year of experience which you can't teach," Ellen said. "We can move along a lot faster as coaches. There's not as much teaching. It's a smart group and they were really willing to work last year. That hasn't changed."
The Bulldogs feature some of the most dynamic players in the CAL National Conference.
Senior defensive back and running back Cappadonna Miller made 70 tackles and scored seven touchdowns last season.
"He's just fun to watch," Ellen said. "Some kids are 220 pounds and play like their 140. He's 140 and plays like he's 220. There's no fear in him."
Running back Stefon Bowman rushed 929 yards and nine touchdowns.
"His preparation in the offseason has been outstanding," Ellen said. "Not only in the weight room and on the track but also in the classroom. He's really preparing to play at the next level."
Ronald Williams excelled at quarterback and defensive back. He made 101 tackles at safety.
"We were really impressed with him last year," Ellen said of Williams. "We knew (being backup quarterback in 2011) he had experience with our offense. The thing that impressed all our coaches is that he turned into a fantastic safety."
Bridgeton's top receiver should be 6-foot-4 Nazir Williams, who caught 20 passes last season.
Another versatile player for the Bulldogs is linebacker and running back Quasheem Taylor, who rushed for 417 yards, scored eight touchdowns and made 62 tackles.
All teams say they have to stay healthy to have a successful season. At some schools that's just another cliche. But with 10 players barely coming off the field, Bridgeton really means it. The Bulldogs have traditionally struggled with low numbers.
Contact Michael McGarry:
Coach: Dave Ellen (14 years, 80-75)
League/Group: Cape-Atlantic League National Conference/South Jersey Group II
Last season's record: 6-5
Playoff appearances: 8
Playoff record: 8-6
2013 prediction: Contender – With nearly all of their key players back, the Bulldogs will be a team to watch.
Key game: Sept. 20 vs. Cedar Creek:The Bulldogs host an early-season matchup of Cape-Atlantic League National Conference contenders. Cedar Creek beat Bridgeton 35-6 last season.
Key players: Quasheem Taylor, Sr., RB/LB, 5-10, 195; Shama Gray, Sr., OL/DL, 6-1, 305; Ronald Williams, Sr., QB/DB, 5-10, 175; Tim Yates, Sr., OL/LB, 5-9, 235; Stefon Bowman, Jr., RB/DB, 5-7, 165; Anthony Jannelli, Jr., TE/DE, 5-11, 180; Cappadonna Miller, Jr., WR/DB, 5-7, 155; Derrick McCall, Jr., OL/DL, 5-10, 230; Jeff Saunders, Jr., TE/DE, 6-1, 220; Kevin Scott, Jr., WR/DB, 5-11, 165; Nazir Williams, Jr., WR/DE, 6-4, 215; Breon Boner, So., OL/DL, 5-10, 255; James Cowles, So., OL/DL, 5-10, 315; Kameron Hernandez, So., OL/DL, 5-9, 175; DeShawn Lamar, So., WR/DB, 5-10, 140; David Mosley, So., QB/DB, 5-9, 140; Jon Morris, So., OL/DL, 6-7, 290; Ricardo Palmer, So., OL/DL, 5-9, 150; Nico Rizzo, So., OL/DL, 5-9, 240; Kavaughn Street, So., OL/DL, 5-9, 245.
Top newcomers: Zack Ferguson, Sr., OL/DL, 5-9, 265; Tavon Holman, Sr., WR/DE, 6-2, 180; Ben Pierce, Sr., RB/DB, 5-11, 180; Markquese Bell, Fr., WR/DE, 6-3, 185.