A certain amount of pressure naturally comes with replacing a proven veteran head coach like Buddy Hepfer.
But luckily for rookie coach Bill Zucco, Hepfer's influence is still strong among the members of the 1992 Arundel football squad.
Zucco, a 15-year assistant at the school, readily admits that his team is very inexperienced and lacking depth, but the Hepfer work ethic still lingers.
"Thank God for Buddy Hepfer, he's a hell of a man. He left everything around here in great shape," said Zucco of Hepfer, who guided the Wildcats to a 4-6 mark in his 15th and final season in 1991.
"It's going to take a while to get things going this year, but I did tell him [Hepfer] that we're going to do some things a little differently, and hopefully we'll have a little fun while doing it."
Among those changes will be the implementation of the one-back offense, which will be run along with the Wildcats' traditional Delaware wing-T.
"I don't know how the team will respond to these changes once the season begins, but I do know that they're responding with a very positive attitude. They like what we're doing," said Zucco.
What the Wildcats lack in experience, they make up for in size, much to Zucco's liking. Lining up in the trenches are seniors Richard Abrams (6-foot-5, 260 pounds) and Greg Booth (185 pounds), juniors John Noon (240), Jeff Donnor (225) and Jason Weinzimer (6-6, 250). Georgia transfer Robert Mason (220) is expected to make an impact.
Leading candidates to take snaps behind a beefy line include first-year varsity members Pat Mitchell (junior) and sophomore Casey Trout. Competition between the two began in earnest following the transfer of last year's starting signal caller George Epps to Old Mill.
Among the returning running backs are seniors Ladrelle Stevens and Chandler Dorsey. Other veteran runners include senior Russell Chapman and juniors Ike Richardson and Kevin Dodson. Senior end Dan Doffemyre should see a lot of footballs thrown his way in the one-back attack.
While he is uncertain of his team's offensive capabilities, Zucco is banking on stellar defense and a relatively injury-free year to get Arundel back on the winning track.
"If we can manage to stay injury free, then I think we could surprise some people. If I had lots of numbers and back-up, then I wouldn't be too worried," Zucco said. "But I just can't have key injuries.
"I'm not too worried about the defense. We will play defense, but we're going to have to produce offensively. We've got to score three touchdowns a game. If we score three a game, then I think we have a chance to win a lot of ballgames. We can't get by scoring just one or two a game like we've been doing for the past four or five years."
Abrams, Weinzimer and junior Todd Warble will occupy the defensive tackle spots, while senior Abe Scrivner, junior Dave Lambert and sophomore Roddy Taylor are listed as possible starters at defensive end.
Rookie linebackers likely to see action are senior Donald Queen and junior Geoff Taylor. Stevens and Dorsey are the top candidates at safety.
Zucco said, "Coaching after guys like Jerry Mears and Buddy is a tough act to follow. I'm really looking forward to the first game, but I know I'll be as nervous as can be when I walk out on the field for the first time."