Heavy graduation losses forced Wall into a rebuilding season in 2012.
As a result, the Crimson Knights had a 2-7-1 season, which included three straight losses to finish the season.
Nick Gregorio, in his second season as Wall’s head coach, wants to stop the losing streak and make improvements.
“We shot ourselves in the foot constantly. We definitely could have been better. I was very disappointed,” said Gregorio, of the 2012 season. “However, we are very optimistic about this season. The guys have bought into our vision and philosophy. This is my first year of having the kids for an entire offseason, so I think that has helped too.”
Wall will depend on veterans Jack Gifford (senior, quarterback), Pete Miceli (senior, running back), Kyle McDonough (senior, wide receiver/safety), Brendan Brady (senior, offensive guard/defensive end) and some others to avoid two consecutive losing seasons.
“Last year was my first year on varsity, so I definitely have a lot more experience and I’m feeling more comfortable this year,” Gifford said. “I didn’t do as well as I expected and our team didn’t do as well as we expected. But this year, we should definitely be a lot better.”
Gifford will have familiar targets in wide receivers McDonough and Chris Quinlan, both seniors. Three of the top four defensive backs return, making the secondar another strength of the team.
“Secondary-wise, we have three veteran guys back,” McDonough said. “That’s me, Jack Cluley and Cadell Kennedy. We all started last year and I think that helps us a lot this year.”
Miceli’s presence at running back will be another asset for a team that is traditionally one of the better running teams in the Shore.
“I think our linemen improved a lot so it is going to open a lot more holes for me and the quarterback,” Miceli said. “We had success last year running the ball and we have some new running plays this season.”
Gregorio also mentioned the linemen as a top area of concentration during preseason practices.
“For me, the key position is the offensive line. We have some really good players like Brady, our left guard and senior Joe Onulak, our left tackle,” Gregorio said. “So, we have two guys with good experience and the three other spots are up for grabs. It all starts with those guys.”
If everything goes according to plan, Wall can avoid consecutive losing seasons and get back to winning.