Coach B.J. Burch knows how to inspire when the Greyhounds tire late in practice.
"I tell them Holy Spirit is two minutes up the road," Burch said. "They're working hard. We have to work hard to get ready to play them."
The Greyhounds open with perennial power Holy Spirit on Friday. Pleasantville finished 1-9 each of the last two seasons.
The problem the past few seasons for the Greyhounds is a tough early schedule. Pleasantville almost always opens with its toughest opponents. The Greyhounds struggle at the start and have trouble building momentum.
This season is no exception. Four of Pleasantville's first five opponents made the playoffs last season.
Still, the Greyhounds are optimistic as the season begins. Pleasantville has good team speed but lacks depth.
"We don't have the luxury of being like an EHT with 70 players," Burch said. "We're a Group II school. The athletes are spread thin among a lot of sports. We go into the season with 35 varsity players."
Many of those players have experience, something the Greyhounds haven't been able to say the past few seasons.
Senior linemen Donald Drinkard, Anthony Johnson and Jonathan Madera have all started since they were sophomores.
"That's where the leadership of our team is coming from," Burch said. "I met with them this spring and I told them this is their turn to win."
Those three will open running room for Lionel Munyeneh, who rushed for 561 yards and averaged nearly six yards per carry.
On defense, Dontaye Smith, a 5-8, 180-pound junior, is one of the biggest hitters in the Cape-Atlantic League National Conference. Pleasantville will also use Smith at running back to take advantage of his speed.
Jacob Hains takes over at quarterback. This is the junior's first varsity season. Pleasantville will run the spread option offense.
Pleasantville hasn't had a winning season since it finished 7-4 in 2003.
PLAYOFF APPEARANCES: 8
LAST APPEARANCE: 2003
PLAYOFF RECORD: 5-8
LEAGUE/GROUP: Cape-Atlantic League National Conference/South Jersey Group II
COACH: William Burch
2008 RECORD: 1-9
2009 PREDICTION: Rebuilding.
The Greyhounds have more talent, especially with veteran linemen Donald Drinkard, Anthony Johnson and Johnathan Madera.
THE GROUND GAME:
Lionel Munyeneh rushed for 561 yards last season.
Donald Drinkard, Sr., LB/OT, 5-10, 200;
Anthony Johnson, Sr., OT/DT, 6-0, 210;
Johnathan Madera, Sr., OG/DT, 6-1, 215;
Lionel Munyeneh, Sr., RB/CB, 5-9, 185;
Dontaye Smith, Sr., SS/RB, 5-8, 180;
Antwan Dixon, Sr., WR/QB/DB, 5-10, 170;
Reggie Williams, WR/CB; 5-10, 160;
Chris Platt, Sr., DT/OL, 6-1, 325;
Kenny Brooks, Jr., OG/DT, 5-10, 215;
Rashid Ward, Jr., WR/DB, 5-10, 160;
Alex Carvajar, Jr., OL/DL, 5-11, 203;
Isaiah Haskins, Jr., DE/TE, 5-10, 185;
Asleem Reid, So., OG/DT, 5-11, 210;
Dontaye Rivera, So., DE/FB, 5-10, 205.
Alim Davis, Sr., C/DT, 5-10, 215;
Jacob Haines, Jr., QB/DB, 5-10, 160;
Kasheem Greene, So., LB/RB, 5-9, 160.
Pleasantville's 2009 schedule
Sept. 11: vs. Holy Spirit, 7 p.m.
Sept. 18: at Buena Regional, 7 p.m.
Sept. 26: at St. Joseph's, Noon
Oct. 9: at Clearview Regional, 7 p.m.
Oct. 16: vs. Bridgeton, 7 p.m.
Oct. 23: vs. Middle Township, 7 p.m.
Oct. 30: vs. St. Augustine Prep, 7 p.m.
Nov. 7: at Lower Cape May Regional, 1 p.m.
Nov. 26: at Ocean City, 10 a.m.