"We're a young team with only one senior starting on offense, but we have two things going for us," Wilson said. "Number one, is receivers, and second, our offensive line.
"We have a lot of youth. We should be interesting, but don't forget we play in a tough league."
Already polls rank as many as four other Olympic Conference National Division contenders among the preseason top 10 in the Delaware Valley this autumn.
COACHING. Wilson enters his third season with an enviable career record 17-5. A former defensive standout with the University of Connecticut and the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League, Wilson began coaching in 1988, a season in which the Tigers (6-4) made it to the Group Three final before bowing to Lacey Township, 31-28, on a field goal in the closing seconds.
Wilson's assistants will be offensive coach John Bamber, defensive coach Kenneth Fisher, wide-receiver coach William Smothers and linebacker coach Ahmed Fowler.
LAST YEAR. The Tigers were unbeaten in the Olympic National Division (8-0) and won 11 in a row before again falling, 28-24, to Lacey Township in the final play of the game in the Group Three championship.
LETTERMEN LOST (15). Eight starters are gone from the quality unit that was considered the best in the Tri-State area. The Tigers attack must replace franchise players such as the 5-foot, 8-inch Frisbey, an exceptional option quarterback whom coach Wilson called, "big time, if he were 6 feet tall."
Even more difficult to find will be a successor to Goodwin, a high school All-American who scored 27 touchdowns last season. He was a scholar-athlete and team leader as well as an outstanding two-way performer. Also gone are McNair and Brown.
LETTERMEN RETURNING (9). Wilson will call on converted wide-out, Marty Cross to fill the void left by Frisbey. The Tigers will have an abundance of outstanding pass catchers in Wilson's run-and-shoot style of offense.
"Juniors, Rodney Dawley, Jamar King, Ron Johnson and senior Cory Drummond are all excellent," Wilson said. "They could be a fast 4 X 100 relay team."
"Dawley will also be a running back. The tailback is Kelvin Fields, who will be a fullback when we use the I-formation."
The offensive line is young with two sophomores - Curtis Johnson (6-5, 350) and Quincy Holloway (6-3, 270). Both went to the University of Pittsburgh's summer football camp and drew praise from the coaches. Eric Echevarria, a junior, is at one guard and either Jeff Seaberry or Teron Gaines, both juniors, at the other. The only senior on the line is center Donovan Washington (6-2, 230).
On defense, a trio of seniors with plenty of seasoning returns. "Dion Phillips is a blue chipper. He'll be an outside linebacker along with Tavane Eddings," Wilson said. "Johnson and Drummond will also start as defensive safeties while King will see a lot of action as a cornerback teaming with Attim Bowman, who has Ivy League potential."
NEW PLAYERS. Omar Cassidy is a transfer from Bishop Eustace. An excellent athlete and fine receiver, Cassidy should vie for the starting tailback position.
A pair of mountain-sized freshman tackles - Leo White (6-5, 300) and Dominick Boyd (6-2, 250) - should command much attention.
SPECIAL TEAMS. Given the abundance of speed, Wilson will have his pick of punt return and kickoff specialists. Rohan Etoria will punt and Etoria and Phillips will handle placements and kickoffs.
OUTLOOK. Woodrow Wilson has excellent size, speed, ability and potential, but varying degrees of experience on its roster. It plays in a highly competitive league, in which most of its rivals are extremely talented and would enjoy knocking off last year's champion.
"Deptford, Camden Catholic and Eastern are our first three games," Wilson said. "They are three of the top preseason teams in South Jersey. . . . Another team that will be heard from is Edgewood. They are young, but have a track team's speed.
"It's going to be a fun year. We're going to have to work hard."
SEASON OPENER. The Tigers, who won by forfeit over Deptford last week
because of Deptford's teacher strike, are scheduled to play host to Camden Catholic on Saturday.
PLAYER TO WATCH
All Marty Cross needs is time. The ability, it seems, is already there.
"He's a nice kid. He grew up and really jelled this summer," said Woodrow Wilson coach Darrell Wilson.
The talented 6-foot, 1-inch 170-pound lefthander's immediate chore is to step in for the graduated Norman Frisbey, who was the team leader last season. ''He's very coachable and has a strong arm. When he masters picking out receivers and secondary choices, he will be a good quarterback," Wilson went on. "He was young last year but has matured and taken on responsibilities. I think so much of his leadership abilities that I named him (team) captain, and he's only a junior."
Becoming an integral part of a team will be nothing new to Cross, who pitched several shutouts for the baseball team last season and played guard on the basketball team last year before backing off to devote more time to his studies.
Cross will have a corps of talented receivers to rely on. Dawley, King, Johnson and Drummond have good hands and sprinter speed. And the size of his offensive line should give him adequate time to pass.
"Because he was a receiver last year and knows pass patterns, and with his instincts, that should help him as a passer this year," said Wilson.
The Tigers' modern wide-open offense usually lines up with only the quarterback and one running back behind the line. The ends and halfbacks are split to the outside. Coach Wilson usually likes to pass about 70 percent of the time.
With Kelvin Fields or Omar Cassidy carrying the ball and the threat of a lethal passing attack, Cross could become one of the most explosive quarterbacks in the region and Woodrow Wilson one of the most entertaining teams around.
All they and their quarterback may need is time.