Triton football took some serious lumps in 2009.
The Mustangs were better last season, although they lost a number of close games and finished with just a 3-7 record. Still, a resounding victory on Thanksgiving Day over school-system rival Timber Creek propelled coach Pete Goetz' program into the off-season with confidence and momentum.
Which brings us to 2011.
A year of great expectations for Triton.
"The sky is the limit for us," senior quarterback/defensive end Brian Keller said.
Keller is one of several three-year starters who are determined to make the most of their senior season. Triton hopes to challenge Delsea and Timber Creek in the WJFL Royal Division, and maybe qualify for the South Jersey Group 4 playoffs.
Keller is a top quarterback. At 6-3, 225 pounds, he's more adept at running over tacklers than around them.
"That's my calling card, lowering my shoulder," Keller said.
Triton has a home-run hitter in junior RB Josh Woods, another three-year starter. Woods has battled injuries in his first two seasons. If he's healthy, he can go the distance on any play.
Two-way lineman Seth Tinsley is another three-year starter and leader up front. The Mustangs also have a top players in FB/LB Dan Bekier, RB Jimmy Burns and WR/DB Alan Richards.
Lou Espada and Brian Marzi are top linemen, and Goetz likes his four-man linebacking corps of Bekier, John Bowers, Artie Flemming and Chance Negri.
"This group has been together for a long time," Goetz said. "I really think they have a chance to put together a strong season."
Triton has flown below the radar for years, with Timber Creek emerging as a much more touted program in the Black Horse Pike Regional School District.
But that Thanksgiving Day victory -- no fluke with a 36-14 score -- has these Mustangs thinking this is their season to gain South Jersey-wide respect.
"We don't have the dynasty of Timber Creek or the farm system of Delsea," Keller said. "People say, 'Oh, you go to Triton, you can't be that good.' This is the year we're going to prove a lot of people wrong."
-- Phil Anastasia