Entering a new decade, the East Syracuse-Minoa football team wants to retain all the successful elements that meshed together late in the previous decade, minus one annoying detail.
The Spartans won its first-ever Section III Class A title in 2006, then spent the next three years trading the Class A American division title with Fulton while remaining a title contender.
Yet ESM kept running into those other Spartans from New Hartford in the Class A playoffs - and kept getting beat, including a 38-14 decision in last year's semifinal round.
Maybe it's not a coincidence that ESM plays New Hartford again on Sept. 10, part of a tough early slate that includes Friday night's trip to the Carrier Dome to play Camden in the Kickoff Classic and a Sept. 17 trip to Fulton. The Spartans don't play at home until Sept. 24, against Jamesville-DeWitt.
Adding to head coach Kevin DeParde's challenge is the fact that Dustin Moss, who ran for a single-season school-record 1,965 yards in '09, has moved on. At the same time, though, a strong core of returning core players (all underclassmen) should keep ESM potent.
"Offensively, we're pretty confident," DeParde said. "If we can come together, we can put up some points."
Quarterback Tyler Johnson is one of many juniors that started as a sophomore. DeParde said he is "the whole package" as a field general, equally capable of throwing deep or running if the occasion calls for it.
Expect more passing, as ESM returns its entire group of receivers. That includes wideouts Bobby Campese and Emile Frigon, plus tight end Connor Haynes - all of whom, like Johnson, are juniors that started as 10th-graders. Mike Gorney backs up Haynes at tight end.
ESM has brought up a highly-touted sophomore, Jeff McDuffie, and given him the tall task of succeeding Moss at tailback, with another newcomer, Jacquell Cotton, sliding in at fullback.