The Middle Township High School football team will employ a simple game plan under new coach Mike Wilson.
"We're going to run the football," he said. "We're going to try to limit the other team's possessions by keeping our offense on the field.
Middle will line up in a version of the Wing-T.
"When you throw 20 or 30 times a game, you have a lot of incomplete passes. You're stopping the clock. You're putting your defense back out on the field quickly."
Wilson took over the program a week before practices started. He was an assistant under former coach Lee Chappine.
"The transition has been as smooth as you can expect," Wilson said. "No real complaints. The kids have been great. We hit the ground running, and we're not looking back."
The Panthers are rebuilding after three consecutive 3-7 seasons. Middle hasn't had a winning season since it finished 6-4 in 2004.
The Panthers have more than 30 players out for varsity this season, according to Wilson.
Middle's strength is its offensive and defensive lines.
"Our seniors up front have started since their sophomore year," Wilson said. "They have taken their lumps, but they're fundamentally sound."
Justin Rhinesmith, a 6-foot-3, 275-pound senior, is a college prospect.
"I remember when he came in his freshman year he was a big kid but he was very underdeveloped," Wilson said. "Last year, you could see he had the makeup size-wise and skill-wise to play on the next level. You're going to have to double-team every time if you want to block him."
Middle must replace four-year starting quarterback Nolan Quinn, who graduated. Junior Robert Wright is the frontrunner.
The Panthers also will feature lineman Bill Kelly, tight end/linebacker Jacob Enright, linebacker Joe Johnson and running back Brian Smith.
Wilson believes better days are ahead.
"If we take to this new style of offense and the football gods our on our side, playing .500 football this year is not out of the realm," he said.
"These are kids who have been in the program for two and three years," Wilson said. "We're looking to them to set the tempo for the entire team.
PLAYOFF APPEARANCES: 2
LAST APPEARANCE: 2004
PLAYOFF RECORD: 0-2
LEAGUE/GROUP: Cape-Atlantic League United/South Jersey Group II
COACH: Mike Wilson (first year)
2009 RECORD: 3-7
2010 PREDICTION: Rebuilding. Panthers will rely on the run to try to keep games close and win in the fourth quarter.
GAME TO WATCH:
Oct. 1 vs. Ocean City.
These Cape May County schools, one-time Thanksgiving rivals, meet for the first time in more than 15 years.
Justin Rhinesmith, Sr., OL/DL, 6-3, 275; Zack Vogelei, So., LB/FB, 6-0, 200; Joe Johnson, Jr., OL/LB, 6-0, 185; Jacob Caprioni, Sr., OL/DL, 6-1, 245; Bill Kelly, Sr., OL/DL, 5-10, 205; Tom Fellenbaum, Sr., OL/DL, 5-10, 180; Greg Carr, Sr., RB/CB, 5-9, 160; Jacob Enright, Sr., TE/LB, 6-2, 190; Dahshuayn Staten, Sr., WR/S, 6-1, 180; Ben Keith, Jr., RB/S, 5-9, 175; Brian Smith, Sr., RB/CB, 5-8, 170; Sam Caraballo, Sr., RB/CB, 5-9, 175.
Robert Wright, Jr., QB, 6-2, 180; Nigel Case, So., FB/LB, 5-10, 190; Terrance Toney, So., LB/TE, 6-0, 190; David Easley, Sr., TE/S, 6-0, 180; Eric Kelly, So., OL/DL, 5-10, 190; Dylan Young, Sr., OL/DL, 5-10, 185; Brandon Belger, Jr., OL/DL, 5-11, 180.