Royals coach Jack Shingle, Upper Darby also has a new attitude.
"The attitude is finally where we want it to be," said Shingle. "The seniors are finally leading. That was a big thing for us this year, whether the attitude would come around, and I definitely think it has."
That could translate into more wins for the Royals this season. Shingle thinks a poor attitude cost his team four wins last year.
"We lost four games that under no terms or conditions will I accept," he said. "All of them were directly related to attitude."
Shingle doesn't think a faulty attitude will be a problem this year. Most of his players have been with him for the three years he has been at Upper Darby.
"We've been running a big-brother program here, where the seniors take care of the sophomores and the juniors take care of the freshmen, so the club is knitted," Shingle said. "We're a year-round team. They can take care of each other academically, socially and football-wise. We're all together now."
COACHING. Shingle enters his third year as head coach with a 6-15-1 record.
LAST YEAR. Upper Darby finished in fifth place in the Central League with a 4-5 record, 4-7 overall.
LETTERMEN LOST (11). Following running backs Kevin Thomas and John Warrington through graduation ceremonies in the early summer were quarterback/ wide receiver John Crawford and wide receiver Danny Smith.
The loss of Smith could make air travel difficult for the Royals, especially in the early going. He was on the receiving end of all but three of the Royals' touchdown passes.
LETTERMEN RETURNING (14). The Royals have experience coming back. All of the starters will be seniors except for wide receiver Bobby Ryan and tight end Steve Trombetti, both of whom are juniors.
The offensive line will be solid with the return of Jim DiBattista, Steve Bell, Steve Yim, Jim Fisher and Craig Harlow.
Greg Lingo, who began the season as a slotback before moving to quarterback for the team's final six games, also returns.
NEW PLAYERS. Cardinal O'Hara transfers Mike Rush and Joe Kane, both seniors, will help offensively and defensively. Rush will play linebacker and Kane, who runs a 4.4 40-yard dash, will add speed to the backfield.
Others expected to contribute are seniors Vince Angelini, a tailback; 6-4 wide receiver Taurus Samuel, and center Brosko.
PROBABLE STARTERS - OFFENSE. Joining linemen DiBattista, Bell, Yim, Fisher and Harlow will be Trombetti at tight end, Lingo at quarterback and fullback Bill Kane.
PROBABLE STARTERS - DEFENSE. Many of the spots are still open but look for the mainstays to be linebacker Mike Stanton and defensive back Brian Dougherty. The defensive line will consist mainly of the same guys who work on the offensive line with senior Mark Gillich rotating in and out. Kansas transfer Rene Donnellan will lend a hand at defensive end.
SPECIAL TEAMS. There's a battle going on for both the punting and field- goal/extra-point duties.
Trombetti and Rush will vie for the punting spot, and sophomore Dave Norgan is expected to push junior soccer player Ernie Feilke for the kicking chores.
OUTLOOK. Shingle said he would be disappointed if his team didn't win a minimum of eight games.
"The talent's here," he said. "This year the club is working like a machine. They know what mistakes were made last year."
SEASON OPENER. Upper Darby will try to avenge an opening-day 48-14 loss at Penn Wood last year by playing host to the Patriots this year in a nonleague game Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Greg Lingo has accomplished just about everything else at Upper Darby High, so why not let the Upper Darby quarterback call his own plays this year?
And that's exactly what Royals coach Jack Shingle intends to do.
"He's the one kid who understands the philosophy of what we're trying to do here," said Shingle. "He can coach it and expand on it. A lot of times he'll call his own plays out there."
Lingo, who also plays basketball and baseball and carries a 96 grade-point
average in the school's honors program, took over at quarterback with six games remaining last year and proved he could do the job.
"He's a blue-chipper," Shingle said of the 6-foot, 2-inch, 200-pound senior quarterback. "Schools are already flying in to talk to him. Stanford's been here, Notre Dame's interested, and so is Penn State."
Yet Lingo is keeping things in perspective.
"I refuse to put any pressure on myself," said Lingo. "I'm not going to worry about where I'm going after this year, but I would like to go to an Ivy League school."
Lingo knows that football - and good grades - is his ticket to college.
"Over the summer, I didn't play baseball because I wanted to concentrate on football. That's what I want to play in college," Lingo said.
Just who Lingo's wide receivers will be is still undetermined. The talented Dan Smith, Upper Darby's leading receiver last season, has graduated.
"We lost some receivers, but there's a couple kids who look like they can catch the ball and run the right patterns," Lingo said. "I do know that I'll have a lot of time to throw the ball. All our linemen are back, and I would think we have to be one of the biggest teams in the league."
With the team's size up front, Lingo thinks a .500 season is definitely a realistic goal.
"We should certainly be above .500," he said. "It's weird because I've always been one of the younger guys on this team and would listen to the older guys and get instruction from them. Now, it's my turn to help out the younger guys and hopefully show them how to win."