With a largely inexperienced team, La Salle coach John Steinmetz knows what kind of challenge the Explorers are facing in being matched against talented and explosive Imhotep Charter in its football opener.
"They have fat least five guys that can score from anywhere on the field," Steinmetz said. That's something we're going to have be wary about all night."
Imhotep, which last season reached the PIAA Class 4A final before losing to Erie Cathedral Prep, visits La Salle at 7 p.m. Friday at Upper Dublin.
After going 7-4 overall and 4-2 in Catholic League Red Division action last season, the Explorers return only four starters on offense and three on defense.
"I think we have a couple of seniors that have that have done an outstanding job in the preseason, and they've been in the program a long time," Steinmetz said.
"We are going to start a lot of younger guys. But we've had a great camp, and the kids have worked very hard."
Despite the clear advantage Imhotep has on paper, Panthers coach Nick Lincoln is not overlooking La Salle.
"They have good coaching, they're always strong in the interior, and we know they'll have a good game plan for us," he said.
La Salle's Jack Machita, a 5-10, 170-pound junior, is a first-year starter at quarterback. With Manny Quiles sidelined by an injury, fellow backs Jalen DeVose and Brad Vespe are the go-to ballcarriers.
Michita will spread the ball among three senior receivers: Sean Daly, Luke Hardy, and 6-6 Kahlil Diarrah.
Lincoln said earlier this week that seniors Jalen Sutton-Christin, last year's QB, and Steve DePaul, a transfer from North Penn, were still competing for the starting job.
"They're kind of similar in the things they do, and they'vereally pushed each other in the preseason," Lincoln said.
The Panthers are loaded with elite skill-position players. Carl Jones and Khadarius Sampson make up a strong-one backfield punch; and Baylor recruit Yusuf Terry, Karam Cummings, Tykee Smith, and D'Shaun Seals are swift receivers.
Smith, who also can play running back and wildcat QB, doubles at safety and is projected to play that position at West Virginia.
History. Imhotep holds a 1-0 edge in the head-to-head series. The host Panthers won, 40-28, in 2013.
Up front. La Salle's offensive line is spearheaded by Ronnie Ross (6-3, 305) and Leland Mersky (6-1, 230).
Newcomer. DePaul passed for 2,071 yards and 23 TDs while directing North Penn to a 9-3 mark last season.
Patrolling the middle. Dillon Trainer, Brendan Frusco, and Tyson Goldstein anchor the Explorers' linebacking corps.
Towing the line. The Panthers' defensive line features tackle Lamar Johnson, and ends Zymir Cobbs and Shaun Small.