Coach Mark Reardon begins his second season as the St. Augustine Prep football coach this year.
But to him this is year one.
"This is where the culture of creating a football team really takes off," Reardon said. "Last year I didn't have a clue. I had no idea what the expectation level should be. This our foundation year with the freshmen class coming in."
The Hermits finished 8-2 and won the Cape-Atlantic League National Conference last season. They are young this season but are once again the conference favorites.
"I have very high expectations," Reardon said. "The type of kid we have here (football) is important to him. I think we're going to have a good season."
The Hermits relied on the run last season. Running back Calvin Cass, now at Navy, rushed for 2,001 yards.
The running game will once again be the key to the Hermits' success.
Mike McGrath, a 6-foot-6, 310 senior who has drawn interest from Monmouth University, Villanova and Lafayette, leads the offensive line.
"As an offensive linemen, I'll say our run game is our strength," McGrath said. "That's what we have to do. Every great football team can run the ball."
The Hermits will feature talented but inexperienced running backs in freshman Cashmir Phillips and junior Lamont Harris.
Reardon said Phillips will touch the ball 15 to 20 times a game.
"They are both as good or maybe a little bit ahead at this point of where Calvin was last year," Reardon said. "They have a ton of ability. We're going to give them the ball and let them go to work."
Sophomore Jose Tabora steps in at quarterback. Austin Francisco, a 6-4 senior, could emerge as one of the conference's top receivers.
Freshman wide receiver/running back Brandon Outlaw may be the fastest player to ever take the field for the Hermits.
St. Augustine will be experienced on defense with senior Tim Kennelly (linebacker), Justin Welsh (defensive lineman) and Ryan Piscitelli (defensive back). Reardon said the Hermits defense must stop the run.
The goal of the St. Augustine program is to one day compete with the state powers in Non-Public IV such as Bergen Catholic and Don Bosco Prep.
"I think we're only getting better as we go along," Francisco said. "We learn from our mistakes, correct them and come back stronger."
Contact Michael McGarry:
Coach: Mark Reardon (second season, 8-2)
League/Group: Cape-Atlantic League National Conference/state Non-Public IV
Last season's record: 8-2
Playoff appearances: 7
Playoff record: 3-6
2013 prediction: Favorite – Hermits are the defending CAL National Conference champions
Key game: Nov. 1 vs. St. Joseph – Hermits host rival and defending CAL American Conference champion St. Joe.
Key players: Will Ahiarakwe, Jr., DE, 6-2, 225; William Bailey, Jr., LB, 6-1, 225; Ryan Barton, Sr., LB, 6-3, 225; A.J. Baxter, So., DB, 6-0, 170; Nick Brown, Sr., OL, 5-9, 230; Tyler Capille, Jr., DL, 6-0, 260; Raymond D'Amico, Jr., DB, 5-10, 175; Dean Dunlevy, Sr., OL, 6-3, 290; Blaine Fox, So., DL, 5-10, 250; Austin Francisco, Sr., WR, 6-3, 190; Lamont Harris, Jr., RB, 5-9, 190; Kieran Hughes, Sr., 6-3, 175; Matt Hutchinson, Sr., DB, 5-8, 175; Tim Kennelly, Sr., DB, 5-9, 175; Tom Lynd, Jr., OL, 6-2, 275; Bill Lyons, Jr., DL, 6-0, 210; Trevor Malaszecki, So., DL, 5-11, 205; Mike McGrath, Sr., OL, 6-6, 285; Connor Morgado, Sr., WR, 6-0, 180; John O'Brien, Jr., OL, 6-2, 255; Dan Pavlik, So., TE, 6-1, 220; Chad Penny, Jr., Te, 6-2, 215; John Pfizenmayer, Sr., DB, 5-10, 170; Ryan Piscitelli, Sr., DB, 6-0, 185; Kevin Ryan, Sr., OL, 6-3, 280; Trent Sibert, Jr., OL, 6-0, 245; Justin Skinner, So., WR, 5-10, 185; Corey Smith, So., DB, 5-8, 165; Hade Smith, Sr., LB, 6-0, 225; Tristan Smith, Sr., WR, 5-11, 170; Kyle Snow, Sr., K, 6-0, 210; Ken Stanfield, Sr., DB, 5-8, 165; Jose Tabora, So., QB, 6-0, 175; Brett Waters, Sr., DB, 6-1, 175; Justin Welsh, Sr., DL, 5-11, 225.
Top newcomers: Jim Brady, So., LB, 5-11, 205; Josh Daids, FR., LB, 6-0, 185; Quinn Dolan, Fr., LB, 5-11, 190; Jack Foster, Jr., LB, 6-0, 210; Brandon Outlaw, Fr., WR, 5-8, 165; Cash Phillips, Fr., RB, 6-0, 175;