MILLINOCKET – For the Stearns Minutemen, there’s nowhere to go but up after suffering through a winless 2005 season.
“I hope we’re better,” said coach Chris Preble. “I can’t imagine it getting a whole lot worse.”
While the 21-player roster isn’t large overall, the Minutemen have many players returning from last year’s squad, according to Preble.
“We have a lot of starters back from last year with some experience,” he said.
Leading the way for Stearns are several two-way starters, including senior Gene Kim (linebacker-tailback), sophomore Cory Barnett (fullback-linebacker), senior Jordan Burleigh (quarterback-safety), senior Josh Saucier (wide receiver-cornerback) and senior Luke Stahl (tight end-defensive end).
The offensive line is anchored by seniors Tyler Pelletier (center) and Ryan Albert and sophomores Spencer Pelkey (guard), Josh Stahl (tackle) and Curt Hamilton (guard). Albert started as a sophomore and was unable to play much last year due to injury, while Pelletier opted to return to football after not playing the last two seasons.
Pelletier is also a linebacker on defense, while Tom Jones also will start at defensive end for the Minutemen.
Behind them are a group of younger players looking to learn the ropes, according to Preble.
“We’ve got some young kids trying to figure things out,” he said. “Once they get to understand what’s going on and learn the language of football they’ll be fine.”
Stearns scrimmaged Mount Desert Island on Aug. 21, which yielded some positives, according to Preble.
“We moved the ball,” he said. “We played good defense. The kids played some good ball. They played a lot, anyway.”
Keeping the roster intact will be key to any success this season, according to the coach.
“There are a lot of good teams out there,” Preble said. “We’ve got to stay healthy and stay focused. We’re going to be successful one way or another.”
2005 record: 0-9
Head coach: Chris Preble, sixth year
Key players: Gene Kim, RB-LB, Sr.; Cory Barnett, FB-LB, So.; Jordan Burleigh, QB-S, Sr.; Josh Saucier, WR-CB, Sr.; Tyler Pelletier, C-LB, Sr.; Luke Stahl, TE-DE, Sr..
Outlook: While lacking in depth, Stearns does have some experience to rely on while looking to reverse a winless 2005 season, though it won’t be easy in the LTC. With only about 21 players, the Minutemen can ill afford to lose anyone to injury or other reasons.