Coach: Ben Kline (1st year)
Last year: 8-3
Key returnees: Nate Stump, Jr. QB/DB; Pat Latini, Sr. C/MLB; Patrick Kline, Sr. SE.
Kline, who graduated from St. Joseph in 2007, is the new head coach. He takes over for longtime assistant Jack Quinn, who was set to replace Gary Bianchi. But Quinn has work responsibilities that will keep him from the Crusader sidelines.
Kline isn't the only former Crusader on the coaching staff. All five of his assistants - Dan DeMarco, Kris Magargal, Tom O'Brien, Josh Tierney and Jake Lenski - graduated with him in 2007.
It will be a good thing that the St. Joe coaches understand the offense and the defense they'll be running, because there are only 21 players on the roster and some have never played the game before.
The Crusaders will once again run out of a double wing and use the military academy-style option game. The fullback is one of those newcomers as junior Brendan Faas is taking his first stab at football. Faas plays lacrosse for Kline at St. Joe, and the first-year coach called his first-year fullback a hard worker and a good blocker.
A pair of junior transfers will play halfback. Dave Lewis comes to St. Joe from Taconic and Marquise Hamilton is a transfer from Pittsfield. They will have a tough time replicating the performance of Lavante Wiggins and Tank Roberson.
Quarterback Nate Stump replaces the graduated Jon Bianchi under center. Stump, a junior, is the most experienced member of the Crusader backfield. The head coach said Stump can make all the throws, but isn't as much of a runner as Bianchi was.
Latini is the lone senior on the offensive line. The others are starting for the first time.
As in the past, the Crusaders will play a 3-5-3 defense. Stump will be the safety, and look to make a lot of tackles. Latini will play middle linebacker, with Faas and Matt Tobin inside with him.
The Crusaders will play only four Berkshire County foes, and play seven games before the tournament schedule kicks in. St. Joe will make one of the longest road trips of the year, going to Seekonk High School. Seekonk is east of Providence, R.I.