As the St. Anthony’s football team prepared to open the 2017 season, no player was more amped to strap up his helmet than junior quarterback Greg Campisi.

Campisi was on the sidelines watching last fall as the top-seeded Friars fell to No. 4 Cardinal Hayes in a wild 49-35 shootout in the CHSFL Class AAA semifinals.

“I’m really excited to be back,” said Campisi, who passed for 1,038 yards and 12 touchdowns, and also ran for another two scores in 2016. “There was a lot I wished I could’ve done during that game.”

In his stead, backup quarterback Bo Waters gave St. Anthony’s (6-3) a fighting chance to preserve its season entering the final quarter. Despite two months without taking a single snap, he completed 8 of 22 passes for 177 yards, one touchdown and one interception, but two fourth-quarter touchdowns from Cardinal Hayes ultimately broke a tie at 35 and put the Friars away.

With Campisi and his 5-0 starting record back in the fold, St. Anthony’s coach Rich Reichert is confident entering the season as the Friars pursue another deep postseason run.

“I think he’s going to play well,” Reichert said. “I think we’ve seen a lot of improvement in the first couple weeks of training camp.”

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Also returning for St. Anthony’s will be a key pair of team captains in senior running back/defensive back Julian Chung and senior defensive/offensive tackle Nick Greer. Chung had four offensive touchdowns, 279 rushing yards and 197 receiving yards last year. Greer, meanwhile, compiled 31 tackles and nine sacks.

Other premier returnees include wide receiver Heron Maurisson-O’Neal (12 receptions, 175 yards and four touchdowns), running back Sean Bryan (352 rushing yards, eight touchdowns) and defensive end Grayson Cherubino (27 tackles, 11 sacks).

But the Friars know their best chance to win the Class AAA title for the first time since 2013 lies within Campisi strapping up his helmet once again.