The Vineland Fighting Clan will have their work cut out for them under second-year coach Josh Hedgeman. However, the Vineland players seem to be responding to Hedgeman's coaching techniques.
"He makes it easy for us with learning schemes and stuff," senior running back Tory Clark said. "He just makes it easy. It's not that hard."
Vineland's biggest hurdle is replacing the playmakers from last year's team such as running back Brian Winchester and quarterback Darrius Flowers.
Vineland will have to replace these two players who led the Fighting Clan to a 5-5 season last year, which is a vast improvement over the year before where they won just two games.
"As a program we don't really look (at players we lost) because every year people have to step up," Junior wide receiver Toure Douglas said. "Everyone comes to practice and fights for the No. 1 spot. Whoever shows up, shows up."
Vineland started off last year with three straight wins - all on the road. However, when the Fighting Clan got to the tough part of their schedule where they played four playoff-bound teams in a row, Vineland lost all four games.
The Fighting Clan have to figure out a way not to carry over the mistakes from one game to the next.
Hedgeman seems to be the one who can do that.
Before coming to Vineland, he coached A.P. Schalick High School, where he created a dominant program during his tenure.
Hedgeman is already teaching the Vineland players that there is more to the game than what happens between the hash marks.
"The main thing is mental because a lot of people think football is just about being athletic, but there is a mental side," said Douglas, one of the few returnees who had significant playing time last season. "That experience will help bring it over and will help me become a leader."
Douglas has liked what he has seen in practice from his teammates.
Even though at a preseason scrimmage he knew he and the rest of the team had plenty of work to do, Douglas felt the Fighting Clan were moving in the right direction.
"In practice, we're very competitive," he said. "We're buying into the program and that's the main thing this year because everyone is competitive. That is going to help us get the best 11 on the field."
Contact Susan Lulgjuraj:
PLAYOFF APPEARANCES: 6
LAST APPEARANCE: 2003
PLAYOFF RECORD: 0-6
LEAGUE/GROUP: Cape-Atlantic League American/South Jersey Group IV
COACH: Josh Hedgeman (second season)
2010 RECORD: 5-5
2011 PREDICTION: Rebuilding. The Fighting Clan have a lot of work to do to replace the playmakers from last season.
GAME TO WATCH: Nov. 24. at Millville. This year's Thanksgiving game will be the 140th in the storied rivalry.