No area football team will have more fresh faces this season than the Pinelands Regional High School.
The Wildcats graduated 21 seniors and have only a few players that have any varsity experience.
The team will still have only three seniors in the starting lineup.
"We don't return a single starter. We're starting three seniors and three freshmen, so we are really young," Pinelands coach Sean DeRosa said. "We're going to try to win one game each week and go from there."
Jonathan Roman is one of the three senior starters. Roman will play tailback and cornerback.
"This is going to be our rebuilding year, but if we practice hard and keep at it, we're going to be decent," Roman said.
Roman had less than five carries on the varsity level last season but will have to replace Matt McLain, a Press first-team All-Star who ran 309 times for 2,544 yards and 26 touchdowns last season.
McLain's biggest knock was that he was undersized.
Roman is 5-foot-5, 125 pounds.
"I'm going to have to replace McLain, but it should be fun," Roman said. "It will be hard, but he taught me a lot of stuff last year. He's kind of like my role model this year."
Other players to watch include Dan and Matt MacPhee. Dan will compete for time with Gerard Grimes at quarterback, while Matt will play wide receiver and cornerback.
"Every group is different," DeRosa said.
"This group believes in each other. They are a good team. It is just going to take us growing up fast."
Last season's group of seniors was one of the best in school history. McLain is gone. Jake Hartman is now catching passes at Bucknell University.
"Matt McLain was like a get-out-of-jail-free card," DeRosa said. "We don't have that anymore.
"We have to play 11 guys that are going to have to do their jobs for us to succeed. We are going to have to get 4 yards a clip and stop teams from scoring on us. We're going to have to play smart - no stupid penalties. It's going to take a full team effort and sometimes it's a lot more rewarding that way."
Contact John O'Kane:
PLAYOFF APPEARANCES: 2
LAST PLAYOFF APPEARANCE: 2004
PLAYOFF RECORD: 1-2
LEAGUE/GROUP: Shore Conference B South/South Jersey Group III
COACH: Sean DeRosa (24-47, seven seasons) 2010 RECORD: 5-5
2011 PREDICTION: Rebuilding. The Wildcats were brutalized by graduation. After back-to-back 5-5 season, Pinelands would be just fine with a .500 record this season.
GAME TO WATCH: At Barnegat on Nov. 24 at 10 a.m. The Thanksgiving Day rivalry game has been one of the best in recent years. Pinelands won two straight games in overtime before Barnegat won 30-28 on a late field goal last season.