At this early stage of the season, the only thing veteran Staples football coach Marce Petroccio is sure of is that Jack Massie will start at quarterback for the Wreckers as a sophomore.
Otherwise, Petroccio says all of the other positions are up for grabs. Like most Staples teams, the Wreckers are athletic but they have some inexperience.
Staples graduated 25 seniors from last season's 9-2 team that came within three points of an undefeated season. Eight of those seniors are playing in college this season, including Pat Murray and Chris Coyne, who are at Yale.
"We need work, that's the bottom line," Petroccio said after Wednesday's scrimmage at Bunnell. "We're just going to try to keep working and get better. That's all we can do."
The Wreckers did not practice Sunday and Monday due to the aftermatch of Irene, which left them in better shape than some other schools in the region.
After missing the two days of practice, Staples faced Bunnell, Torrington and New London on Monday in their first preseason scrimmage. The Wreckers have two more scrimmages next week: Ridgefield and Cheshire on Monday and Fairfield Prep on Sept. 9.
"It's our first look at different people and some pretty good football teams," Petroccio said. "That Bunnell team was excellent today. I think the thing with us is we need experience and we need to play other people and we just need to get better."
The Wreckers graduated their top two rushing threats in Tyler Jacobs, who ran for 1,050 yards and 12 touchdowns, and quarterback Chet Pajolek, who added 430 yards and seven TDs on the ground before suffering a season-ending injury.
Senior John Heil (385 yards last season) figures to be the Staples' top threat in the backfield this year and had some success running the ball on Wednesday.
But the Wreckers were not in midseason form - far from it, according to Petroccio.
"There's little things I don't like today, so there a lot of little things that we are going to have to clear up," he said. "Today, at times we got out-hustled, we got out-played. I didn't like the level of enthusiasm. There's a lot we have to work on, but you're talking about replacing a lot of kids.
"I'm not sure if they really know how to act yet, but by game one they will. They're going to have to grow up. No one is going to feel sorry for us, that's for sure."
One area where Petroccio is not too worried is at quarterback. It is an unsual for a sophomore to start at quarterback in the FCIAC, but Massie took over last year when Pajolek went down and showed poise beyond his 14 years.
Massie started the Wreckers' playoff game against Glastonbury and led the Wreckers on a dramatic touchdown drive in the final minutes. Instead of playing for overtime, the Wreckers went for a two-point conversion and the possible win, but came up short, 7-6.
"He's going to be a heck of a football player for us," said Petroccio, who is entering his 19th season at Staples with a career record of 154-51.
Staples kicks off its season on Sept. 17 at two-time Class S state champion St. Joseph, the first of three straight road games to open the year.