Back when Jim DiTulio took the coaching job at New Hope-Solebury, he knew the first five years were really going to be a challenge, as his team went from club status to junior varsity to, eventually, varsity.
Now in their fourth varsity season, the Lions are coming off a 5-6 season that included three league wins.
While DiTulio thinks his team has met the goal of making "steady improvements" each year, he was disappointed that the Lions didn't reach eight wins last season.
As many teams do in the small-school Bicentennial Athletic League, the Lions struggle with roster size - they have just 33 players - and DiTulio likens his job to that of playing a game of chess: moving pieces around to see where they fit.
For New Hope-Solebury, the challenge will come from back-to-back District 1 Class A champion Calvary Christian, whose defense has been known to give the Lions trouble, and Delco Christian, which will be competing in the Bicentennial for only the third season.
Senior captain Billy Malamis (6-foot-2, 270 pounds), a third-year starter on both the offensive and defensive lines, and junior quarterback/safety Connor Hayden are two Lions players to watch.
Last year, Springfield (Montco) went 9-0 in league play and 11-1 overall. The next two best teams, Delco Christian and Calvary Christian, went 6-1 and 5-2, respectively.
Springfield will compete in the Suburban One this year, so the Bicen is up for grabs.
Delco Christian coach Jim Favino is relying on his young players to mature quickly this season. Favino also expects big things from the wide-receiver tandem of junior Ron Burrell and senior Austin Stephens.
Caleb Favino and Sam Tascone, both seniors, will provide the rushing yards for the Knights, and junior Gator Grim will play quarterback. Caleb Favino missed all of last season because of a leg injury.
Another middle-of-the-pack team from last season, Jenkintown, will look to improve on last season's 5-4 overall record and 4-3 mark in Bicentennial play. It was Phil Gormley's first season at the helm.