No one around the Chiefs program was happy with the way the Buena Regional High School football team’s season went last season.
The squad was young, starting a mass of sophomores and juniors, and stumbled to a 2-8 record under first-year head coach Jonathan Caputo.
But lessons were learned, precious game experience was gained and the majority of last year’s team is back. And on Wednesday, they got to hit the field for their first official practice of the year.
“It feels good, getting everybody together and stuff, starting fresh,” senior defensive back/running back Robert Bunton said.
There is reason for optimism. Nearly every skill position player returns on the offense, including standout junior running back Love Scott and junior starting quarterback Eric Rainear. In all, seven starters return on defense and eight are back on offense.
That means this year’s late August practices are more about refining and repetition.
“We’re really excited about this year,” Caputo said. “After having a full year in and knowing the expectations, I think coming into camp, it was refreshing. We’re not starting at square one, there’s a foundation built.
“We’re light years ahead of last year. I don’t have to set up a drill and explain it for 20 minutes.”
Wednesday saw the players in just helmets, but in the coming days, they’ll move to full pads and full contact.
“We just have to take everything one step at a time,” senior lineman Darryl Guilford said. “We’re getting everything together now and we just have to focus so when we get to real practice with pads on, it’ll be clean.”
Guilford will likely be a third-year starter and the anchor of the line. Wideouts Nate Neiderhofer and Mike Julia are back along with linebacker Dom DeFoor.
“We have a lot of experience now,” Guilford said.