Jonathan Caputo spent seven years on the practice fields of the Buena Regional High School football team as an assistant.
Now, he's back as the head coach.
Caputo replaces Paul Callahan, who resigned after last season. Callahan led the Chiefs to the South Jersey Group II playoffs three of the past four seasons.
"I'm excited," Caputo said. "We've had a good commitment by the kids. Everything has been positive."
Caputo was the head coach at Audubon the past two seasons. The Colonial Conference school finished 5-5 both seasons.
Caputo has an extensive history at Buena. In addition to being a football assistant, he was the girls basketball coach. He teaches health and physical education at the school.
"Buena's a special place for me," he said. "It's good to get back on that field again and be with the kids I see in the hallways."
Caputo isn't the only thing new at Buena. The Chiefs return just three starters on offense and three on defense.
Most of the veterans are on the offensive and defensive lines. Darryl Guilford, a 6-foot-7, 290-pound junior, started at left tackle last season and has the potential to be a dominant player.
"He's a hardworking kid," Caputo said. "Sometimes you get those big kids, and they don't like to work, but not Darryl. He's a physical presence for sure."
Junior running back Robert Bunton, at 5-foot-8, 160 pounds, has emerged during preseason practices as a player to watch.
"He's one of the scat backs," Caputo said. "He's quick and a low-to-the-ground type of guy."
Caputo doesn't plan to make things complicated for the Chiefs. He wants to get as many players on the field as possible.
"We want to keep people fresh and get people snaps," Caputo said. "We have a lot of young guys. We want to get them that playing experience."
Buena's young players will be tested immediately. The Chiefs face one of the Cape-Atlantic League's toughest schedules.
The Chiefs open Friday at home against St. Joseph and then play at Hammonton on Sept. 16. Those teams had a combined record of 17-5 last season. Buena also faces Group IV schools Atlantic City on Oct. 7 and Mainland Regional on Oct. 21.
"Our schedule is brutal," Caputo said. "We have to compete at a high level quickly. "
Contact Michael McGarry:
PLAYOFF APPEARANCES: 13
LAST PLAYOFF APPEARANCE: 2009
PLAYOFF RECORD: 6-12
LEAGUE/GROUP: Cape-Atlantic League United/South Jersey Group II
COACH: Jonathan Caputo (10-10 in two seasons at Audubon; first season at Buena)
2010 RECORD: 3-7
2011 PREDICTION: Rebuilding — Inexperienced Chiefs face a tough early-season schedule as they open against perennial powers St. Joseph and Hammonton.
GAME TO WATCH: Oct. 7 vs. Atlantic City — A win over Group IV Atlantic City would give Buena a boost toward the playoffs. Atlantic City beat Buena 12-0 last year.