The Barnegat High School football team graduated two outstanding playmakers in quarterback Nick SanGiacomo and wide receiver Mike DeTroia.
But the Bengals are not completely rebuilding this season.
They return several standouts from a team that finished 6-5 and made the South Jersey Group II semifinals, including 6-foot-6, 248-pound tight end and defensive end Ryan Morris.
One of the state's top college prospects, Morris is headed to Purdue University.
"Everyone is hyped up and ready to go," Morris said. "We have a lot of kids ready to step up and make plays. I'm ready to get out there."
Morris caught 30 passes for 494 yards last season. He also had two sacks on defense.
"Ryan dictates defensive fronts and sometimes coverages," Barnegat coach Rob Davis said. "He allows other people to catch passes."
DeTroia, now at New Hampshire, caught 62 passes for 931 yards and 11 touchdowns.
But in addition to Morris, the Bengals also return junior Pat Moran, who established himself as one of the region's top receivers with 56 catches for 826 yards and six touchdowns.
Moran also kicks and plays defensive back, where he intercepted eight passes last season.
"He's stepping up into more of a leadership role," Davis said of Moran.
"We can play him at any position. You're going to see him at quarterback. He's going to be playing multiple positions."
SanGiacomo, now at Tulane, threw for 2,556 yards and 22 touchdowns last season. Senior Mark McCoy steps in at quarterback. Davis said McCoy has a strong arm but can also run the ball.
"He's played multiple positions because he's been behind SanGiacomo," Davis said. "But (McCoy) is still a quarterback. We feel like he could have played quarterback for 70 percent of the teams we played last season."
The Bengals play one of the toughest schedules of any South Jersey Group II team. Their nine opponents were a combined 74-44 last season. They open at Rumson-Fair Haven, the defending Central Jersey Group II champion.
"There's no breathing room with the schedule," Davis said. "But that's what we want to do. We want to play tough games. Who knows where we'll end up, but we'll have fun getting there."
Contact Michael McGarry:
PLAYOFF APPEARANCES: 2
LAST PLAYOFF APPEARANCE: 2010
PLAYOFF RECORD: 1-2
LEAGUE/GROUP: Shore Conference B South/South Jersey Group II
COACH: Rob Davis (23-27, five seasons)
2010 RECORD: 6-5
2011 PREDICTION: Spoiler - Purdue-bound tight end Ryan Morris and wide receiver Pat Moran will make the Bengals offense tough to defend.
GAME TO WATCH: vs. Matawan: Bengals host Matawan, which is tradition Central Jersey Group II power and finished 11-1 last season.