Running back and linebacker Daron Moore underwent shoulder surgery in the summer.

Still, he didn't miss a practice this preseason, even though he couldn't participate.

Moore will miss between one and four weeks, but his dedication shows just how enthusiastic Millville is about the upcoming season.

The Thunderbolts are optimistic they can better last season's 5-5 record. Many Cape-Atlantic League coaches believe Millville could surprise in the American Division.

"He's been outstanding," Millville coach Jason Durham said of Moore. "He understands football. He has a high football IQ. He has been really good with the young guys. I think he'll be ready to go when he comes back."

The Thunderbolts come off their first non-losing season since they finished 6-4 in 2005.

"We thought we made some strides last year," said Durham, who is in his third season. "We got better as a program and were able to compete with the better teams. We're hoping we make the step."

The Thunderbolts have the talent to do just that.

Nick Tyndal and Armando Rivera are three- and two-year starters on the line, respectively.

Junior Shaquille Lee steps in at quarterback. His top target is two-year starter Brandon Hart.

"Our attitudes have been great," Durham said. "The big thing is the kids know our system. They understand the plays. They understand the defense."

Millville opens at home against Middle Township (3-7 in 2009) on Friday. The Thunderbolts play at Oakcrest (5-5) on Sept. 17.

Like all teams, Millville wants to get off to a fast start, but some September wins could be a big boost for a program that has struggled the past few seasons.

Few southern New Jersey towns enjoy high school football as much as Millville. The school sells season tickets.

"The townspeople have been very supportive," Durham said. "We like it that way. We don't want to play in a town where people don't care."

PLAYOFF APPEARANCES: 7

LAST APPEARANCE: 1998  

PLAYOFF RECORD: 5-6

CHAMPIONSHIPS: 1

LEAGUE/GROUP: Cape-Atlantic League American/South Jersey Group IV

COACH: Jason Durham (6-14, two seasons)

2009 RECORD: 5-5

2010 PREDICTION: Spoiler. With several veterans back, Millville appears poised for a winning season.

GAME TO WATCH:

Oct. 8 vs. Ocean City.

This is the type of game Millville must win to achieve a winning season. The Red Raiders edged Millville 13-12 last season.

TOP RETURNEES:

Brandon Hart, Sr., WR/SS, 6-2, 185; Daron Moore, Sr., RB/LB, 6-0, 200; Nick Tyndal, Jr., OL/DL, 6-2, 255; Rob Hoffman, Sr., DL, 6-2, 275; Shaquille Lee, Jr., QB/DB, 6-0, 170; Armando Rivera, Sr., OL/DE, 6-0, 240; Alquann Jones, Jr., RB/CB, 5-8, 170; Tyson Still, Sr,. RB/CB, 5-6, 150; Zubir Boyer, Jr., WR/LB, 5-10, 160; Chris Andujar, Sr., OL/DL, 5-10, 215; Anthony Felice, Sr., WR/FS, 5-11, 165; Josh Garrett, Jr., OL/DL, 5-11, 225; Chris Whitelam, Jr., OL/DL, 6-0, 250; Herman Holden, Jr., RB/LB, 5-10, 185.

KEY NEWCOMERS:

Josh Slater, Sr., TE/LB, 5-8, 185; Le’Roy Bell, Sr., WR/CB, 5-11, 155; Tyler Gandy, Jr., OL/DL, 6-0, 275; Justin Mulligan, Sr., RB/LB/K, 5-7, 190; Marshall McShan, So., RB/LB, 5-9, 190; Rashon Sorrell, So., QB/FS, 5-10, 170.