Last season the Polytech football program took a positive leap, finishing with a winning 6-4 mark in the Henlopen Conference.

With the new season, the Panthers are hoping to continue their rise. Hoping to rise to the challenge is a small core group of returning starters, along with fresh faces in new roles.

One of the players back in the fold is senior quarterback Vincent Tascione. After a standout junior campaign, Tascione is ready to take on more, according to head coach Kevin Smith.

“Since we were so senior heavy last year Vinny didn’t have to be a primary leader,” Smith said. “This year with only about four starters back, he’s thrust into the leadership role.”

Tascione progressed week-to-week last year, and Smith believes he’ll continue to improve.

“He was successful last year because he took what the defense gave him and continued to learn every day,” Smith said. “As the season went on, he began to trust his abilities and ended up with a very successful season.”

Last season, the offense averaged 15 points-per-game, scoring 20 or more points in four games. Having lost players on offense including Tucker Reed, Doug Reed, Azel Foster and nearly their entire offensive line, others will have to step up.

At running back, Montrell Jones and Donell Hooker will see touches, while DJ Rawley will offer some versatility in the backfield and at wideout. Meanwhile, on the o-line, Matt Chadwick returns as an experienced varsity player, making the jump from tight end.

With change on the offensive side of the ball, the Panthers face the same challenges on the defensive end.

Having lost players including Zach Lott, Zion Downing, Chris Gordon and Foster at linebacker, a fairly new group on defense will be learning as they go.

“The defense is shaping up well. We return only two starters so they’ll need to rise up quickly,” Smith said. “They’re constantly improving and working hard. That’s all you can ask for from the players. They’ll need to grow up quick.”

Despite dropping their opener earlier this week to A.I. duPont, the Panthers will look to bounce back this Friday night when they host Indian River.