Coach Bob Coffey of Mainland Regional knows how daunting the task is. Someone must replace quarterback Brent Caprio this season.
Caprio is a now a freshman at William & Mary University. All he did last season was throw 27 touchdown passes, run for 21 touchdowns and lead the Mustangs to a 12-0 record and the South Jersey Group IV championship.
Few players in Cape-Atlantic League history have had better seasons.
"I wouldn't want to be the guy following (Caprio)," Coffey said with a laugh. "It's (Mainland offensive coordinator) Chuck Smith's problem. It's my problem too, but I'll let him worry about it."
Caprio is far from the only standout no longer in a Mainland uniform. The Mustangs graduated 17 starters.
Mainland does return some veterans, especially on defense.
Antoine Lewis, a 6-foot-3, 255-pound defensive lineman, consistently pressured opposing quarterbacks in 2008. He had 10 sacks.
Mark Slotoroff is back at linebacker. Joe Beard is a two-year starter at linebacker.
Mainland returns some playmakers on offense.
Wide receiver Eddie Irizarry caught 18 passes for 419 yards and five touchdowns last season. Irizarry caught two touchdown passes in the 21-14 win over Southern Regional.
Running back Dan Boudreau had nearly 500 combined rushing and receiving yards and scored seven touchdowns. Running back Saeed Evans showed quickness averaging more than six yards per carry. Running back Cliff Farrell was supposed to play a role last season but missed most of the year with an injury. Hayden Boskovich is a veteran on the offensive line.
As for the quarterback spot, three Mustangs competed for that position in the preseason -sophomores Joseph Fortunato and Patrick Kugel and freshman Tom Bradway.
Mainland hasn't had a losing season since it finished 4-6 in 2001. This group is talented enough to continue that streak.
PLAYOFF APPEARANCES: 14
LAST APPEARANCE: 2008
PLAYOFF RECORD: 20-8
LEAGUE/GROUP: Cape-Atlantic League American Conference/South Jersey Group IV
COACH: Bob Coffey
2008 RECORD: 12-0
2009 PREDICTION: Contender:
The Mustangs return few veterans but have enough back to challenge for a playoff spot.
THE GROUND GAME:
Saeed Evans and Cliff Farrell have little experience but plenty of potential.
Dan Boudreau, Sr., RB, 5-8, 170;
Ed Irizarry, Sr., WR/DB, 6-1, 185;
Joe Beard, Sr., LB, 6-0, 205;
Antoine Lewis, Sr., OL/DL, 6-3, 255;
Hayden Boskovich, Sr., OL, 6-3, 250;
Mark Slotoroff, Sr., LB/K, 5-10, 180;
Cemah Torboh, Sr., DL, 5-11, 210;
Sam Maiman, Sr., Slot, 5-10, 180;
Cliff Farrell, Sr., RB/DE, 6-0, 190;
Saeed Evans, Sr., RB, 5-7, 160;
Paul Rochford, Jr., C, 6-0, 200;
Dondre Brown, Jr., LB, 6-0, 208;
Cole Bortner, Jr., LB, 6-0, 209;
Andrew Monroe, Jr., OL/DL, 6-1, 214;
Gordon Prince, Jr., WR, 6-0, 180;
Tom Bradway, Fr., QB, 5-10, 170;
Patrick Kugel, So., QB, 6-1, 175;
Joe Fortunato, So., QB, 6-1, 165.-
Mainland Regional's Schedule
Sept. 11: Vineland, 7 p.m.
Sept. 18: Atlantic City, 7 p.m.
Sept. 25: at Ocean City, 7 p.m.
Oct. 9: at Holy Spirit, 7 p.m.
Oct. 16: Hammonton, 7 p.m.
Oct. 23: at Millville, 7 p.m.
Nov. 6: Absegami, 7 p.m.
Nov. 26: at Egg Harbor Township, 10 a.m.