1. Quarterback. The graduation of Brandon Hamilton won't hurt nearly as much with talented junior Dominique Thornton ready to take over at quarterback. At 6-foot-2, 165 pounds, Thornton is a dual threat with nifty footwork and an accurate arm throwing on the run. "He creates a dimension where the ends have to worry about containment because he can run," Dudley said.
2. Receivers. Thornton will have a number of green, yet talented receivers. Brent O'Neal, Jake Holsinger, Desean Thomas and Ryan Harbour are freshmen; James Goodwin is a sophomore. Ryan Laurent, one of only two seniors on the team, is also the Crusaders' fastest player and provides a deep threat at wideout.
Canterbury coach Steve Dudley's No. 1 goal is fielding a tougher team. With just 20 players on his roster, Dudley understands that his players will get exhausted as the game wears on. But the Crusaders simply don't have the luxury of bringing fresh bodies off the bench. "Our guys need to learn to play through bumps and bruises," Dudley said. "That's the kind of thing where in the past, maybe they would come off the field. Now they're realizing that's part of football."
1. Can Canterbury's youngsters mature on the go? More than 50 percent of the Crusaders roster is made up of sophomores or younger. Dudley estimates he'll start at least seven freshmen. "That might be some kind of county record," he joked. Players such as the physically imposing Micah Madir (6-3, 295 pounds) and athletic lineman Harrison Hall are promising but must grow up in a hurry.
2. Is Canterbury too small up front?
Of the 10 offensive linemen, nine weigh less than 190 pounds. Only Madir has any considerable size. Dudley expects to run the ball a lot more because his blockers struggle in pass protection.
Bryan Burns, Times staff writer