League: 4A Northeast
Head coach: Gus McNair, second season (8-2)
2016 record: 8-2 (4-0 Northeast League, first)
Returning starters: Eight offense, Eight defense
Top offensive players: QB/RB/WR Diamante Burton (Sr.); RB Jayvion Pugh (Jr.); WR Keyon White (Sr.); OL Shaun Greene (Sr.); OL Donovan Wolfe (Sr.); OL Maxwell White (Sr.)
Top defensive players: S Johnathan Bailey (Sr.); MLB Jah’quire Powell-Hunt; LB Keyvon Lakes (Jr.); DL Germaine Carmena (Sr.); DL Desmond Nunnelly (Sr.); CB Knylen Miller-Levi (Sr.)
Outlook: With plenty of experienced players returning, the Pioneers hope to build off last year’s Northeast League title and make a longer run in the playoffs.
Burton was forced into action at quarterback last season with positive results. He completed 53.7 percent of his passes for 1,284 yards and 14 TDs. He also rushed for 698 yards and 13 scores.
He’ll move around the field this season. Pugh is back after rushing for 492 yards as a sophomore in earning first-team All-Northeast League honors. White (17 catches, 157 yards) should be a big-play threat at receiver.
Returning all-league offensive linemen Greene (6-3, 380), Wolfe (6-3, 300) and Maxwell White will pave the way.
Bailey keyed the defense from the safety position last year and returns along with fellow second-team All-Northeast League picks Powell-Hunt, Carmena, Nunnelly and Miller-Levi.