The 2009 football season was one that the Palmerton Blue Bombers want to forget.
After back-to-back trips to the District 11 Class 2A championship game, the Blue Blue Bombers went 1-9 in the Colonial League despite being in a number of games that they just couldn't finish.
The one positive that came out of last season was that plenty of underclassmen got a taste of varsity competition and Head Coach Paul McArdle hopes to combine that with a good group of seniors that played on those good teams and last year's team. And one thing for sure, this year's veterans don't want a repeat of 2009.
"We have people coming up to us and saying so what do you think, 5-5 this year," said McArdle. "That's not our expectation. We think we can compete for the league title. We're excited.
"Despite the losing record, last year the attitude never got too bad. It wasn't good, but it was never one of those 'let's pack it in and get ready for next year' seasons. They played right up until the final game with Northern Lehigh and just about all of those kids are back.
"The good thing is, they're a year older, a year stronger and got some experience. We were in most games last year even though the final score didn't indicate that. We either got worn down or folded a little bit. I don't see that happening this year."
Offensively, McArdle feels the Bombers will have a lot of options to go to. He's really pleased at the players at the skill positions.
"Christian Marcin is a kid who is going to make a name for himself," said McArdle.
Last year, Marcin had 1,000 all-purpose yards on a team that wasn't very good. McArdle expects him to be one of the top offensive weapons in the TIMES NEWS Area and Colonial League as well. He's the starting flanker and is also the backup quarterback. Look for Marcin to be a threat running back kickoffs and punts as well.
McArdle also likes his tailbacks in Travis Wolfe and sophomore Alex Vignone.
"Right now they're neck and neck and it doesn't really matter which one starts, I can see situations where they both have at least 12 carries in a game," said McArdle.
Senior Zach Freed has paid his dues and now gets to be the starting quarterback, after backing up Joe Weber, who graduated, last year.
"He worked scout team as a freshman and then JV's and now he's getting his opportunity and seems excited to prove himself."
The Bombers have moved senior Levi Serfass to the fullback position has been a nice jolt.
"We were kind of missing that fullback that we had when Justin Petersen was here and I think we'll get a return to that from Levi," McArdle said.
The thing he's most excited about on offense is the line and with a lot of veterans starting, he feels it is very good.
"They're all kind of similar builds and we won't be as big as many of the teams, but they're blue collar type kids and their work ethic is great," said McArdle.
Jared Kleintop and Jared Harry both started as sophomores, Cody Silfies is back for his second year at guard and looks comfortable there now. McArdle also expected sophomore John Snyder, a tackle, to be a stud for the Bombers. Kane Kralik is the center and is doing a great job in workouts.
"The fact that they have developed as good linemen was the reason we felt comfortable moving Levi (Serfass) to fullback," McArdle noted.
Travis Labyack really came on last year when he was moved from tailback to wide receiver and will start there this season. Senior Geo Rodrigues could also be a big surprise in the receiving corp.Aaron Cook, Mitchell Good and Albert Bickowski will all see action at tight end.
Defensively, the Bombers hope to get back to a fast defense. In the past, they prided themselves when they got to the playoffs with five, six, seven guys flying to the ball all of the time.
Last year, the Bombers had only one senior in Weber starting defensively so there is plenty of experience back. Look for the Bombers to be physical up front with some speed at the field positions.
Coming off the 1-9 year, McArdle wants to make sure that the confidence is there so if things go poorly, they don't let it bring them down.
Last year, the Bombers were a young team in a senior-laden league.
This time around McArdle sees Pen Argyl, Bangor, Northern Lehigh and Wilson as contenders, but also sees a lot of balance in the league.
"A successful season would be to see us make the district playoffs again and compete and be alive at the end of the year for the league title," McArdle said. "It's tough to go from 1-9 to that, but teams do it. Years ago, we had a two year span where we were 2-28 and we turned it around. We're looking to do it in one year."