CHATHAM, NJ - The prospects for the 2017 Chatham football team is a little like the activity going on at Cougar Field this summer - Call it "Under Construction."
Cougar Field has been closed through the summer months and Chatham football followers will get their first look at the updated facilities when Newark Barringer visits for the 2 p.m. season opener on Saturday. The team will look like new, too.
"We have a lot of guys who will be playing four quarters as a starter for the first time," Chatham head coach Jason Izsa said. "A lot of these guys don't have varsity experience."
That inexperience includes senior quarterback Andrew DesMarais, who is playing football for the first time since his freshman year. In contrast, Barringer comes in with signal caller Zamar Wise, who is coming off a season in which he threw for 15 touchdowns and ran for five.
"We know we're one of the best-coached teams out here, we can out-scheme any team," Cougar senior tri-captain Max Schelling said. "It's just about executing and playing as one. Turnovers are going to be the key to the game. We know we have to contain their quarterback."
Chatham will be out to prevent the big play, which hurt the Cougars in last year's opening 34-23 loss at Schools Stadium to Barringer.
"I feel like if we bring the fire, we can be really good," Chatham tri-captain Ben Herbert said. "Once we're all in, and we all execute and everybody does their job, we're going to be a hard squad to take down."
DesMarais will make his football renaissance behind a line that includes senior Chris Strutt at center; senior Herbert and junior Ben Baker at the guards, and junior Luke Agnew and senior Patrick O'Malley at the tackles. Junior runner Jake Wingate will be in the backfield with senior tri-captain Christian Cuttita, Schelling, junior Shane Carlin and sophomore Charles Cuneo at the receiver positions.
Senior running back Drew Sardini is on his way back from a preseason injury.
The defensive line features, O'Malley, sophomore Josh Pollard, junior Sean Goodman, Baker and Herbert.
The linebackers are Schelling, Agnew and junior Josh Smith. The Chatham secondary will have Cuttita and Cuneo at the corners and junior James Ehler and Carlin at the safeties. Junior Ryan Lonergan is listed as the backup at quarterback and safety.
Converted soccer player, Kristian Roos, takes over the kicking duties. The junior will take over the dual punter/placekicker role held down by Timmy Adams the past few years.
"Roos is very athletic and he's learning the game as he goes," Izsa said. "He's also working on the offensive side of the ball at receiver."
Chatham competes in the North Jersey Super Football Conference, Patriot White Division, which includes Group 3 state sectional champion Morris Hills and state sectional runner-up Parsippany Hills.
"There is a lot of upside and energy on this team that we have to tap into," Cuttita said.
Max Schelling scored the first touchdown of the season last season in the opener at Barringer
Luke Agnew falls on fumble in the end zone to score TD vs. Barringer in last season's opener