With a young team in 2009, Woodrow Wilson took its lumps.
The Tigers were much better in 2010, going 6-4 overall including a 3-1 mark in the WJFL Independence Division.
This season, Woodrow Wilson has a talented, senior-heavy team that looms as the favorite in the division and could be a serious challenger in the SJ Group 3 tournament.
"There's a certain level of maturity with this group," Woodrow Wilson coach Chris Crowley said. "They get it a little bit more."
Woodrow Wilson has around 30 seniors, many of whom have been playing at the varsity level for three seasons. Leading the way is QB Aaron Spencer and WR T.J. Chambliss, a pair of three-year starters.
Spencer passed for 1,654 yards and 17 TDs last season. He said he's poised for a big senior season.
"I'm in the best shape of my life," Spencer said.
Chambliss caught 32 passes for 596 yards and 6 TDs last season.
Other returning veterans for Woodrow Wilson include WR/DB Joseph Taylor, RB Anthony Haynes and two-way linemen Ricky Williams and Matthew Hernandez.
This is a deep, experienced team that is a heavy favorite to win the Independence, although improved Bishop Eustace will be a threat and the Tigers always are looking at a battle on Thanksgiving Day from cross-town rival Camden.
In what's likely to be a loaded SJ Group 3 tournament field, Woodrow Wilson would be an underdog against the likes of Delsea (the Tigers split with the Crusaders last season, winning in the regular season and losing in the playoffs), Moorestown, Hammonton, Oakcrest and defending champion Lacey Township.
But along with Timber Creek, Winslow Township and perhaps Mainland, Woodrow Wilson is a team with enough talent and enough experience to spring a surprise or two in November.
"We're looking to dominate," Spencer said.
-- Phil Anastasia