The new league also includes two former champions - Northern Burlington, which won the Freedom Division last year, and Moorestown, which captured the South Jersey Group 2 title.
Cinnaminson, with 12 returning letter-winners, is the favorite. Delran is considered the best challenger, and Moorestown could surface as an outside contender if much-needed scoring punch is found. Rancocas Valley and Northern Burlington don't appear ready to contend, but they should still provide formidable opposition in this competitive division.
Coach: Chip Candy (22-15-1).
Last year: 10-8-1 overall, 7-2 division (tied for second in the Olympic Conference National Division).
Key returning players: Forwards Matt Kiss (17 goals, 3 assists) and Brian Huffnagle; defenders Eric Mathis, Pat McDermott, Ed Fudah, Pete Rodriguez and Scott Hughes; midfielders Chuck Ambos, John Damian, Kyle Kaufmann and Mike Schroeder, and goalie Anthony Mazzarelli.
Promising newcomers: Forwards Chris O'Schell and John Vining.
Outlook: The Pirates, ranked No. 4 in The Inquirer's preseason South Jersey ratings, enter the season as the favorite in this new league. Last year, Cinnaminson was hurt severely by injuries. Kiss is one of the better offensive players in the area and Mazzarelli could emerge as one of South Jersey's top goalies. If the Pirates can stay healthy, they should seriously contend for the league title and be one of the best area teams in Group 2.
Coach: John Hughes (77-19-2).
Last year: 8-7-2, 8-6-2 (fifth in the Freedom Division).
Key returning players: Midfielders Mike Benn, Greg Harrison, Mike Okipinski and Dave Zealer; forwards Matt Digney, Bob Brown, Shawn Urwiler and Josh Trolley; goalie Chad Keyportes, and defender Jason Braun.
Promising newcomers: Defender Joe Ventura (a senior transfer from Holy Cross); midfielders Mike Romello and Brian Langdon, and forward Rudy Silva.
Outlook: In Hughes' first four years the Bears lost a total of 12 games. They slipped to seven losses last year, but with 10 returning letter-winners Delran should once again be in the contender's role.
Coach: Mike Sutcliffe (14-6-2).
Last year: 14-6-2, 10-4-2 (fourth in the Freedom Division).
Key returning players: Goalie Ben Schall (10 shutouts); defenders Dason Mathers and Dave Khanlian and forward Todd Michael.
Promising newcomers: Forward Hunter Hendrickson; midfielder Jason DeBlitz and defender Justin Santino.
Outlook: Even though the Quakers were hit hard by graduation, this should be one of the top defensive teams in the league. The question will be whether the Quakers can develop a consistent goal scorer to go along with Michael. If this happens, Moorestown, while maybe not considered a favorite, is capable of posting a winning record and possibly surfacing as an outside contender.
Coach: Douglas Daniels (90-83-11).
Last year: 17-5, 13-3 (first in the Freedom Division).
Key returning players: Forward Mike Shaw (17 goals); midfielder-defenders Dimetry Uymn and Paul Ashmore; and defenders Tom Lynch and Jason Rarig.
Promising newcomers: Midfielder Matt Anderson (a junior transfer from Rancocas Valley); midfielder-defender Jason Tanner; forwards Chris Findly and Luis Ojeda (an exchange student from the Canary Islands), and goalie Jamie Worrell.
Outlook: The Greyhounds lost too much to graduation to be considered a contender, but this is another team capable of producing a winning record. Shaw should be one of the league's top offensive threats, but the defense, which is unproven, must come up big if the Greyhounds hope to post a winning record.
Coach: Tony Lotierzo (74-112-8).
Last year: 14-8, 6-6 (fifth in the Liberty Division).
Key returning players: Forward Steve Ringgold (12 goals); goalie Rick Keeley; defenders Darren Gunn, Jose Rosario and Mike Ashley; and midfielders Ed Weiler, Cam Uhlig and Frank Marzullo.
Promising newcomers: Defenders Carl Howard and Mike Duncan; midfielders Ray
Hutchens, Chris Wittkamp and Josh Gannone and forwards Brian Sharp and David Leitner.
Outlook: With eight returning letterwinners, the Red Devils have the experience needed to compete in this difficult league. However, the graduation of 33-goal scorer John Sharp has left a big hole. If Rancocas Valley can develop a consistent scorer to complement Ringgold, this team can also post a winning record, but it doesn't appear ready to contend for the league championship.