For the Record

Coach: Andy Palko, 22nd season

Record: 103-108

Starters back: 4 on offense; 4 on defense

Past five seasons: 29-21, one playoff appearance (2000)

The Breakdown

Senior wide receivers Brandon Somerville and Matu Threatt have to play major roles on offense this season, if only to help ease in several new and young starters at other skill positions. Sophomore Justin McVerry will take over at quarterback, and he is about six inches shorter than his 6-foot-5 predecessor, Enrique Garcia.

"It'll probably take a couple of games to get things clicking," Somerville said. "We've got to be patient."

The Braves' coaching staff is excited about the backfield, including sophomore running backs Anthony Fenwick and Darren Showalter. Joining them are two fullbacks, junior Brandon Cox and sophomore Dwight Savoy, also varsity rookies.

Chopticon is relying on its speed because it hopes to outrun opponents. The Braves lack much size and will have to start some linemen under 200 pounds.

"We're real small on the line," Chopticon Coach Andy Palko said. "But if you've got a choice between speed and size, you always go with speed. The last four or five years, we've had a pretty good run of skill-[position] kids. We haven't had the linemen we've had in the past, but we've done well with the skill kids."

Already a terrific athlete, Threatt has bulked up to around 190 pounds and will call the defense from his outside linebacker spot. Assistant Coach Tony Lisanti said Threatt "has worked harder than anyone else on the team to get in shape."