When Pleasantville suffered a 41-6 loss on Thanksgiving to Ocean City last season, head coach David Dudley talked about growth.
He said that despite his team not winning a game all year - in fact, Pleasantville hasn't won a game since the end of the 2009 season - there was significant growth among the team.
Now with the offseason over, Dudley feels his team is ready to end a long losing streak and take the next step toward being a contending football team again.
"These kids want to win real bad, and they've put in their time in terms of taking their lumps on the field, and I'm really looking forward to those kids achieving a win on the field," Dudley said.
"We start off with Mainland, so they're no easy test. But a lot of times you catch a team by what they do when things don't go right and this team stays together.
"These kids have hung in there so they really deserve a chance to have a victory. I hope it comes soon."
Dudley said that once Pleasantville gets that first win under its belt, it can begin to focus on other things like growing as a team.
Dudley will turn to a handful of upperclassmen this season to step up as leaders.
Senior Michael Foster is playing in his second season at Pleasantville after transferring from Holy Spirit and having to sit his sophomore year.
"Junior year he came back and experienced success and this year I'm looking for him to build on that success and lead the young guys on the field," Dudley said.
Pleasantville is also returning junior quarterback Che'quan Hargrose.
Hargose has been a starter since his freshman year, having played in every game the last two seasons.
"I'm looking for him to excel on the field and show the growth and show the development in terms of recognizing defenses and coverages and being able to make the checks and appropriate throws," Dudley said of Hargrose.
Maurice Wilkes, a junior offensive and defensive tackle, will be viewed as the leader on the line.
Conditioning will be a big challenge.
"When you only have 25 who are participating in a varsity game, those 25. ... They are soldiers," Dudley said. "You can put them in any battle because they are tested. A lot of guys in the Cape-Atlantic League don't have to go both ways for 48 minutes, whereas in Pleasantville it's pretty much expected."
Contact John Russo:
Coach: David Dudley (0-20, 2 seasons)
League/Group: Cape-Atlantic League National Conference/South Jersey Group II
Last season's record: 0-10
Playoff appearances: 8
Playoff record: 5-8
2013 prediction: Rebuilding - Pleasantville is seeking its first win in three years.
Game to watch: Sept. 20 vs. Vineland - This will be a match-up of two rebuilding teams.
Key returnees: Ronnell Moore, Sr., CB/WR, 5-11, 174; Michael Foster, Sr., RB/LB, 6-1, 225; Thomas Becker, Jr., LB/FB, 5-7, 162; Kendelle Williams, Jr., RB/DB, 5-11, 190; Che'Quan Hargose, Jr., QB/DB, 6-3, 190; Khaliff Greene, Sr., OL/DL, 5-11, 260; Charles Ramseur, Sr., OL/DL, 6-1, 305; Maurice Wilkes, Jr., OL/LB, 6-4, 290; Zayd Smith, Sr., RB/LB, 5-7, 160; Dimitri Ledger, So., G/LB, 6-0, 225.
Top newcomers: Yahmeen Fisher, Jr., RB/DB, 5-6, 155; Kamal McClary, Sr., RB/LB, 5-10, 170; Khristopher Downing, Sr., OL/DL, 6-0, 247; Shaquille Haynes, Sr., RB/LB, 5-11, 210.