There are big shoes to fill at quarterback with the graduation of Sean Ryan, an honorable-mention All-Met and the All-Extra Offensive Player of the Year. Last season Ryan amassed 2,739 yards of offense en route to breaking or tying 23 school records for passing and total offense. That job likely will fall on the shoulders of junior Terrence Glenn (5 feet 10, 155 pounds), an athletic and versatile player, though he was being pushed this preseason by senior Tony Mazur (6-0, 170).
Whoever wins the job will receive considerable help in the backfield from returning senior RB Shamar Knight-Justice (5-8, 170), who last season rushed for 760 yards and 11 touchdowns on 126 carries. Also back are junior RB Marcus Lewis (5-10, 150), sophomore RB Kevan Walker (6-0, 175) and junior FB Robert Walther, Jr. (6-0, 220).
"Because the single-wing is something you don't see too many places, we're anxious to see how it will work in the new district," Coach Mickey Thompson said. "I've seen [the AA Dulles District teams] get better and better at defending it over the years, so we had to make some changes. But now we expect some of our base stuff to be effective again."
The Bulldogs will continue to combine the run-based, single-wing with a spread formation that uses five wide receivers and proved effective a year ago.
"We have as much talent as we've ever had," Thompson said. "It's just all young."
Junior G John Manning (6-2, 225) and senior C Tyler Pearson (5-10, 210) are the only two returning starters to the Bulldogs' offensive front.
Stone Bridge will have a host of new faces on defense, starting with senior Ted Zurawski (6-2, 240), who moves over from the offensive line to handle one of the two defensive end positions. Zurawksi's counterpart on the line will be junior Andrew Nuss (6-5, 265), with help inside from senior NG Jeff Carroll (5-11, 275).
Senior standout Andrew Holoman (6-3, 210) has been moved from defensive end to inside linebacker -- the position he will most likely play next season at Duke -- and expects help from the linebacking corps of seniors Deandre Burnette (6-2, 245), Brandon Moser (5-8, 155), Steve Jones (5-9, 195) and junior Tim Wells (5-9, 220).
"We definitely don't have the same kind of size on defense that we did last year," Thompson said. "So we're going to rely more on our speed and aggressiveness."
Mazur and sophomore Jeron Gouveia (6-1, 160) will work at safety with Lewis, Walker and sophomore Ryan Moody (5-9, 155) handling the cornerback slots.
There is no reason to think the Bulldogs won't be as productive in the AAA Liberty District as they have been during the past three years in the AA Dulles. Although they return only eight starters on offense and defense combined, part of the luxury of their success is that many second- and third-team players have experience. "The thing is, for many of these kids, instead of being role players they now have to be major contributors at the varsity level," Thompson said. "Are they ready for that? I hope so. But I won't know for sure until I see them in a game."