The Nighthawks are entering their fourth year under head coach Jason Potts and are coming off their most successful campaign in nearly six years.
Their numbers are up, and morale is high.
Attitudes are shifting in Hanover as the Nighthawks begin the 2011 season, but questions still abound.
Hill and Caler combined to grind out 1,071 of the Nighthawks' 1,590 rushing yards last season and eight of the team's 19 rushing scores.
Varsity letters: Luckily, Potts has a large group of upperclassmen returning to replace some of the departed big-name contributors.
Among them are physical fullback Matt Felton, towering tight end Ian Bosserman and quarterback Steven Schaffer.
Because of losses along the offensive line, including big man Tyler Sipes, the Nighthawks will employ a pistol-spread offense to give Schaffer and his skill position teammates more time to operate.
Expect Felton, who rushed for 437 yards last season, to see a heavy load.
"We're going to put him in a single-back set and give him the ball quite frequently," Potts said of Felton.
And Hanover will count on Schaffer, a speedy, mobile passer who kept defenses honest all last season but managed to chuck eight interceptions to one touchdown.
An athletic group of wideouts, including Bosserman at the tight end spot, will allow Schaffer more downfield opportunities to throw the ball.
"Last year, my offensive coordinator was under strict orders to run 70-75 percent of the time and not pass as much, and that was predicated by the people that we had at the receiver position," Potts said. "But now, we have athletes out there now, so that's going to change, so there's going to be a lot more weight on Steven's shoulders at quarterback."
On defense, Potts will depend on his team's strength up front as it employs a new 3-4 scheme under new defensive coordinator Matt Osmun. Jordan Perdue will see reps at noseguard, while Bosserman will be the team's premier pass rusher from the defensive end/outside linebacker spot.
New face in the crowd: Potts is hoping a new wideout, senior Jordan Banks, will ease Schaffer's transition from a running quarterback into a stronger passer.
Banks took two years away from football to concentrate on basketball but is back for his senior year.
Also entering the mix is big freshman offensive lineman Garret Reichart. Potts insists Reichart will play a role for the Nighthawks and could probably start on most of the other teams in the division.
Mark your calendar: The future is bright for Hanover's athletic programs in general, as the Nighthawks will have a new stadium to call home at some point.
But the renovations at Sheppard-Myers Athletic Field aren't finished yet and likely won't be completed until mid-October at the earliest. This means Hanover will be forced to play its first seven games on the road.
Tight end/Defensive end
Who's the one player on your team that you wouldn't want to face? Probably a challenge would be Matt (Felton).
What practice drill do you hate running the most? Road dogs. It's an offensive stance drill pretty much, getting your steps down.
Which NFL player would you compare yourself to? Todd Heap.
What pregame music gets you pumped up to play? I just listen to pretty much rap.
Do you have a nickname? If so how did you get it? Nope.
What is your favorite move on the field? I like to sack the quarterback.
What's the best thing about playing football? Just bonding with the team and being able to be a part of something with everyone.
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