Coach Dennis Scuderi of the St. Augustine Prep football team looks at the practice field and doesn't see many familiar faces.
Most of the standouts that led the Hermits to unprecedented success the past two seasons have graduated.
St. Augustine won the Cape-Atlantic League National Conference in 2008-09. The Hermits were a combined 19-2. They haven't lost to a southern New Jersey team since a 22-14 loss to St. Joseph on Oct. 26, 2007.
"Faces change," Scuderi said. "But it's been fun. We have a lot of young kids who are working hard."
Not only have many standouts graduated, but the Hermits' schedule strengthens. St. Augustine now plays in the CAL American Division and will play Group IV schools such as Absegami and Egg Harbor Township.
"Will we be competitive? Yes," Scuderi said. "But week in and week out, I don't know how our kids are going to react."
Still, St. Augustine returns enough players to again contend for a title.
Andrew Baumgardner leads the offensive and defensive lines. Kris Rasso is a standout linebacker.
The Hermits also return their kicker. At most schools, that's not cause for excitement, but Chris Gough is one of the best in CAL history and a Division I college prospect.
"He's kicked a 52-yard field goal," Scuderi said. "He kicked a 47-yard field goal in a scrimmage, and it looked like an NFL kick.
Others players will be asked to play more prominent roles. Running back John Barillo has the potential to be one of the region's best.
One of the players who graduated was quarteback Dustin Thomas, a four-year starter and a now a freshman at Villanova University.
Junior Chris Jablonski steps in at quarterback.
"He throws the ball well," Scuderi said. "We're going to throw the ball just as much as we did with Dustin. We just have to see what the game dictates."
The Hermits also have highly touted freshman quarterback Joe Gatto of Hammonton on the roster.
"He's still learning," Scuderi said, "and it's a little fast for him, but I expect big things from him."
PLAYOFF APPEARANCES: 6
LAST APPEARANCE: 2009
PLAYOFF RECORD: 3-5
LEAGUE/GROUP: Cape-Atlantic League American/State Non-Public IV
COACH: Dennis Scuderi (84-31, 12 seasons)
2009 RECORD: 9-1
2010 PREDICTION: Contender. Hermits graduated a number of talented players but lineman Andrew Baumgardner,
linebacker Kris Rasso and running back John Barillo are talented returnees.
GAME TO WATCH:
Oct. 22 vs. Absegami.
Not only is Absegami the American Division favorite, but the Braves are also coached by Scuderi’s son, Dennis Jr.
Chris Jablonski, Jr., QB, 6-1, 207; Bob Applegate, Sr., OL, 6-0, 216; Tom Totoro, Jr., OL, 5-8, 205; Andrew Baumgardner, Sr., OL/DL, 6-3, 225; Chris Cullman, Sr., OL, 5-11, 214; Regan O’Connor, Jr., RB/LB, 5-8, 155; John Barillo, Jr., RB/LB, 6-0, 185; Sean Scully, Sr., WR/DE, 5-10, 173; Chris Gough, Sr., K, 6-3, 160; Austin Johnson, Jr., DL, 6-3, 220; Kris Rasso, Sr., LB, 6-0, 195; Kyle Kunz, Jr., LB, 6-0, 185.