The Menlo School football team is coming off a 6-5 season. There is plenty of hope for improvement in 2016.
Charlie Ferguson was the team's leading offensive performer a year ago, rushing for 1,087 yards. He also led the team in tackles with 103 from his linebacker position, 75 solo, and returns for a senior season with high hopes.
"I'm really excited about this team,'' Ferguson said. "It's a great group of guys.''
Plenty of attention is always focused on the quarterback in Menlo's Run'n'Shoot offense. Hayden Pegley takes over this year.
"He's very smart, a great decision maker,'' Menlo coach Mark Newton said. "He's got an accurate arm and good feet.''
The Knights have a third standout on hand in lineman JH Tevis who had 14.5 sacks last season as a sophomore and 23 tackles for loss.
"An exceptional football player,'' Newton said.
Newton went on to enumerate several other players expected to play key roles this season: RB/LB Robert Lopez, a group of receivers and defensive backs that includes Jack McNally, Evan King, David Schmaier and Aidan Israelski.
Ferguson mentioned junior Ty Corley as another player who has impressed in preseason drills.
Menlo went 2-3 in the Peninsula Athletic League Ocean Division a season ago. The PAL Ocean is a "B" league in the conceptual framework of the Central Coast Section.
But last year the Ocean was much more like a B+ or A- league. The six teams in the PAL Ocean went a combined 29-9 in non-league play.
Second-place Half Moon Bay went on to a 54-7 win over Pacific Grove in the CCS Division V championship game. Division champion Hillsdale advanced to the Division IV title game before losing to Aptos.
Look for the Ocean to be the best CCS B division again this season. Hillsdale has moved up to the Bay with Sequoia moving down to take Hillsdale's place.
Newton said he thought Half Moon Bay and The King's Academy should be considered the favorites, while South San Francisco, Sequoia and Woodside are also all legitimate threats.
Menlo wants to include itself among that group.
The Knights have a weak non-league schedule that includes two teams from San Francisco's AAA league -- Lincoln and Mission -- Carlmont from the PAL Lake and Harker. So they should go into PAL Ocean play with a good record.
"(Pegley) had a great summer, looking real good in passing league,'' Ferguson said. "I'm super excited. There seems to be a totally different feeling. We're trying to establish our own name.''