During the first week of practice last season, Hill School first-year coach Grey Simpson had a lot of things to worry about. He and his entirely new staff were trying to get to know the returning players as well as the newcomers - all while implementing a new system.
And then he had to send everyone home because of a hurricane.
This year, things are quite different for Simpson and the Blues.
"We are light-years ahead of where we were this time last year," Simpson said.
Last season, Simpson spent a lot of time ingraining in his players a new approach to practice. The result is a higher tempo and crispness, as well as an advanced level of comfort and trust. On defense, look for major changes, as the Blues have brought in three new coaches to employ advanced shutdown schemes.
On offense, the Regensburg twins, Adam and Seth, will lead the Hill School at wide receiver, with junior quarterback Grant Smith looking to spread out defenses and set up the run by using the pass.
Simpson is looking forward to the Nov. 12 Mid-Atlantic Prep League game against Lawrenceville School. The two sides will celebrate the 125th anniversary of their first meeting.
After almost four decades as a coach, Andy Davis has retired, leaving the Academy of the New Church program in the hands of his assistant, Ty Klippenstein. Klippenstein graduated from ANC in 2000 and played college ball at Gettysburg. Before taking over, he worked under Davis for five years.
Now in his first year at the helm, he has tasked his team with winning the league, something Klippenstein concedes will occur only if the Lions "pull off an upset or two."
There is also a first-year coach at Valley Forge Military Academy, where the Trojans will have their second new coach in as many years, as Josh Sands takes over for Matt Dence.
Tom Calvario has come to expect small numbers each year at Perkiomen School. But, now in his third season with the Indians, he believes the challenges of adding students from the boarding school to his roster are "minor."