Second-year football coach Rocco Bruno seems to have Friends headed in a positive direction.
Bruno believes the rebuilding process can take a step forward this fall, and that he will be able to squeeze a few more wins out a Friends team that has more speed and depth than last year.
The Quakers finished with only 17 players last season and struggled to a 1-7 record.
"They haven't won more than three games in a season in 10 years," said Bruno, whose team competes in the MIAA C Conference. "But there is more enthusiasm for the program this year. We had a weight program over the summer. We have brand new Under Armour uniforms. I can tell the future is bright at Friends."
A group of five freshmen have given the program a boost: Center Skyler Kessinich (6 feet, 180 pounds), running backs Trace Conaway (5-9, 180), Tyler Badey (5-7, 165) and Kavon Samuels (5-7, 160) and cornerback Lance Kevin (5-6, 160).
"They really bring it and my older players also have stepped up more," Bruno said. "These kids have played rec football and it shows. They have brought us a lot of speed. That's something we didn't have last year."
Senior quarterback Christian Spente (5-8, 160) is one of six returning starters on offense.
Seniors tight ends John McGaugh (6-0, 195), a C Conference all-star last year, and Christian Shepard (6-2, 180), along with senior fullback Nick Demario (6-2, 240), senior tackle Kenyatta Bragg (5-8, 230) and junior guard Ethan Sigman (6-2, 260) will block in the single-wing offense.
Sophomore safety Tommy Enokian (5-7, 150), sophomore tackle Jeff Gonya (6-1, 190), junior linebacker Sam Todd (6-0, 190) and sophomore nose guard Sam Billips (6-2, 260) lead the defense.
"What hurt us last year was not having enough kids," said Bruno, who has a 22-player roster. "In the first quarter, we would be leading. Then in the third and fourth quarters, our guys would be dead. Our guys would have to play offense, defense and special teams."