Though the Patriots were 3-7 in Mike Barrett's debut as head coach last season, in the context of coming off an 0-10 season and beating Wyoming Area that 3-7 isn't as bad as it sounds.
There were even upsides to some of the losses. "I thought the team made great strides," Barrett said. "I really do. There were three other games where we led the game late against Dallas and Berwick and in tough overtime game against Williamsport. It literally came down to nine minutes where we could have been 6-4 potentially and been a playoff team. I tell the kids we have to get that nine minutes back."
To do that the biggest challenge for Barrett and his staff is to develop an offensive line.
"We have enough kids returning at the skilled positions and defensively. Our big question mark is going to be the offensive line. We lost a good majority of them. We potentially have a very athletic line, but inexperienced. If we get the line solidified and do well early we can be very competitive."
Asked about George Curry's return to Berwick, Barrett said, "I think it's great. I was with another older gentleman Frank Pazzaglia for a long time at Valley View and he has more energy then any of the young guys out there including myself. Curry is a great individual, a great football coach and he's got as much fire as he ever did. I really think he's going to bring the life back to Berwick again."
Barrett used a line from a friend to describe what it's like playing in the WVC Division 1. "A friend of mine said, ‘Jeez it's like playing in the SEC week in and week out.' There's just so much talent out there and the teams are so well coached that you don't know what's going to happen week to week. Berwick is going to be very good. Crestwood, Dallas, WVW, Coughlin."
The Patriots play a mulit-pro offense. Barrett said the offense passed about 35 percent of its plays last season. "We want to pass enough that they have to honor it, but we have to establish that we can run the ball. Again if we solidify the offense line we'll be very competitive.
Things can change is a week if there are injuries, but going into Friday's scrimmage at Dunmore the likely starting quarterback for the opener at Abington Heights at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 1 is Junior James Emmett, 6-0, 185.
The tailbacks are last season's top ball carrier 5-8, 175 senior Justin Wilk and 5-8, 155 sophomore Kyle Gattuso.
Rotating fullbacks are 6-0, 230 senior Mark Romanczuk, 5-9, 205 junior RJ Haas and 5-10, 180 junior Hassan Maxwell
Tight ends are 5-10, 165 sophomore Joe Montini and 5-10, 175 senior Sam Falcone. Chris Cummings is out with an injury.
Senior Joe Starinsky, 5-7, 160, is at flanker with 5-9, 160 senior Mike Chisdock at wideout
On the right side of the offensive line are 5-11, 270 sophomore Brandon Goodlavage and 6-2, 280 senior Anthony Haughton.
Nick Dougal, a 5-10, 195 pound senior is at center. On the left side are tackle 6-0, 210 junior Mike Hughes and 5-10, 205 guard Eric Danaher.
Projected as linebackers Sam Falcone, Hughes and Maxwell and 5-8, 180 freshman Carmen Falcone
Danaher and Haughton will play defensive tackles with 5-9, 210 senior Joe Giambra between them at nose.
The DBs are corners Joe Starinsky and Gattuso and safeties Mike Schwab and Steve Starinsky.
Derrick Donoto is the punter and place kicker.
It's all but impossible to predict a record for the Patriots, but as Coach Barrett said they expect to be competitive. They were 3-7 last year, but were in most of their games late. As said, they have some tools, but the o-line must develop rather quickly for the Patriots to go .500 or better.
See PA schedule on page 46