Cecil Whig - - IN­SIDE­BASE­BALL -

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

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