One of the biggest challenges Graf has faced in his first preseason has been the heat. The high temperatures have kept the Eagles from practicing in full pads several days.
A tougher test facing him is to replace an All-County backfield and a three-year starter under center.
Running back Justin Dulaney and fullback Bo Matherly each earned All-County nods as seniors last fall – the third such honor of Matherly’s career. Tyler Ferguson also graduated after starting at quarterback since his sophomore season.
“Bo is going to be difficult to replace because of his physical play on both sides of the ball. We’ve got a couple players that are playing fullback,” Graf said. “Devin Gatewood is a returning varsity player who played some fullback last year when Bo was out with some injuries, so he’s acclimated to the position. He’s a big, strong kid, so he’ll be able to do the job very well.”
The Eagles are likely to turn to a transfer to replace Ferguson.
“Tyler Ferguson is probably – in my point of view as being an offensive minded guy – the toughest guy to replace. He was an extension of the coaching staff on the field. That kid was more knowledgeable than some of the coaches that I’ve coached with in the County, he’s going to make a great coach one day,” Graf said. “We have three quarterbacks on the varsity roster, one senior and two juniors. One’s a transfer from Salesianum (Del.), John Knight, he’s probably going to be our start- er. We haven’t named our starter yet, but it’s been a very interesting competition throughout the summer because they’re actually best friends and live next door to each other.”
Graf’s run as head coach begins Friday as Bo Manor opens against Stephen Decutar for the second season in a row. The Eagles fell 21-7 in last year’s opener.
From the outside, it appears to be the beginning of a new era at Bo Manor. But for the team, it’s business as usual.
“It’s really not too terribly different because Coach Graf and Coach Shives coached together,” Moore said. “It’s not like we did a complete 180 from where we were last year. There’s some similarities, but there’s some changes, too.”
Follow Sean Grogan on Twitter: @Sean_CecilWhig