A year ago, Pottstown showed flashes of promise under rookie head coach Don Grinstead, but failed to consistently put together four quarters of solid football.
This season, the Trojans (1-8 PAC-10, 1-11 overall last year) hope that improving in a lot of fundamental areas will translate into an improved win-loss record.
"I expect us to compete,' said southpaw senior quarterback Gary Wise, back for his second season as a starter. "We've been working on pushing each other to become better in every way we can. Even if we're down, we're going to keep pushing and playing.'
Last year, the Trojans failed to capitalize on several early-season opportunities in what wound up an 0-7 start. Then, after getting in the win column with a 28-14 victory over Upper Perkiomen, off-the-field discipline issues depleted the roster and contributed mightily to a four-game losing streak to close out the season in which the squad was outscored 143-26.
Grinstead is hoping that experience of throwing inexperienced underclassmen into the fire will finally pay dividends this fall.
"We've got to find consistency,' Grinstead said. "And that consistency comes in a lot of ways. It's mental toughness as well as physical toughness.
"With our kids, I think we're at the point in our program where we're trying to find the right kind of kid to close out those game. And if they do the right things in the classroom and in practice throughout the week, they're going to be mentally tough in the fourth quarter and be able to finish games. We're trying to find that.'
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound Wise threw for 936 yards and eight touchdowns last year while also rushing for 507 yards and eight scores.
He'll joined in the backfield by fellow threat (and cousin) Brandon Tinson, a 5-10, 175-pound junior who will see action as a rusher and receiver.
"We feel as if we have some skill guys, but we're really trying to put the focus on our offensive line,' Grinstead said.
That line will be led by returning starters Alex Humma and Clayton Mitchell.
Tinson will spearhead the defensive attack from his safety spot, with lineman Humma also expected to play an integral role, though the Trojans will have to make due without linebacker Vaughn Bertoti after the senior suffered a broken leg in a scrimmage last weekend.
"We expect to be more sound there,' Grinstead said. "Last year we installed a whole new defense, and to change that stuff that quick and expect to get it that fast was probably not realistic. Now, having a whole year in the system and scheme, we expect to be more fundamentally sound and tougher.'
Both mentally and physically.
Follow Darryl Grumling on Twitter at @MercSmokinD.