There won't be any new pressure on the Carey Seahawks as they enter the season as the defending Long Island Class II champions.
Even though the Seahawks still had to break the mental barrier of beating Garden City in the Nassau title game, Carey started to separate itself from the pack as last season went on.
"In reality, we were the hunted from midseason on last year and had that bull's-eye on us so we know how to deal with it," coach Mike Stanley said.
The high-powered offense will have a new trigger man in junior Mike Catanese but even after the graduation of key weapons, Carey remains loaded at the skill positions. Add in four returning offensive linemen, including mauling left tackle Jorge Cerquera, and though difficult to believe, the Seahawks might not miss a beat.
"We have so many returning guys that were involved with the offense in November, that we might be farther along than we were last year," Stanley said.
Even scarier is that a team that allowed only 64 points in 12 games returns the deepest defensive line Stanley has had in his eight years and all-county middle linebacker Conor Colasurdo is back.
"We played even better in some of our scrimmages than we did last year," Colasurdo said. "We have a lot of guys who've been on varsity for two years together now."
Senior wide receiver Nick Spillane, who led the team in touchdowns during the playoffs, admits that though the flashier names of last year's senior group are no longer present, this year's squad has a chance to be just as special.
"We can put up just as many points as last year but it might just be in a little different fashion," Spillane said.
What won't change is the mental approach.
"Everyone else wants to see in Newsday that, 'oh, Carey lost,' " Colasurdo said. "We have to play with that same chip on our shoulder, too -- maybe even more because we need to defend the title."