On the heels of a nine-win season, the Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic High School football teams has its sights set on an appearance in the District 6 Class A championship game in November.
The one thing that could give the Marauders some trouble is if a largely rebuilt line doesn't come together.
Where Guilfoyle stands in the trenches should become much more evident at the end of Friday night after it travels to Bedford to face a Bison team whose strongpoint is a very big and experienced group of linemen.
"The majority of our experience is on the offensive and defensive lines, so we certainly need to build around those guys," said Bedford coach Kevin Steele, who is trying to turn around a 2-8 campaign. "We didn't do a great job up front on either side of the ball last year, so, hopefully, having a lot of returning experience there will help us.
"Most people who understand the game of football know that it starts in the trenches, so we're happy to have a lot of experience back in our offensive and defensive lines. Hopefully those guys can control the line of scrimmage and make some plays for us in crucial situations."
Kickoff for the intersectional Laurel Highlands Conference matchup is at 7 p.m.
Game: Bishop Guilfoyle Marauders (9-3 in 2012) vs. Bedford Bisons (2-8 in 2012)
Where: Bison Stadium, Bedford
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
The coaches: Bishop Guilfoyle - Justin Wheeler (10-11, third year); Bedford - Kevin Steele (39-45, ninth year)
Series record: Bishop Guilfoyle, 9-7 (first met in 1925)
Last meeting: Bishop Guilfoyle, 42-0 (Sept. 1, 2012)
Returning along the offensive line for Bedford are 235-pound senior David Seifert, 265-pound senior Alec Jones, 265-pound junior Nate Shoemaker and 200-pound sophomore Seth Foor. Senior Josiah Koontz, who started at running back last season, was getting looked at as a guard in the preseason, as was junior Korey Sabo.
Jones, Koontz and Seifert also started on Bedford's defensive line last season, while Foor played linebacker.
The only returning starter BG has on its defensive line is Nick Little. Marauder coach Justin Wheeler only has one starter back on the offensive line - tackle John Taddei, who played center last year.
"They'll have the advantage when it comes to the line, just because of the experience and the size that they have," Wheeler said. "It's going to be a difficult task. We've been talking to the guys for the last week and a half that this is going to be one of our biggest challenges up front. All those guys that Bedford brought back are big, they're fast, they're strong."
Wheeler, though, was on the other side of this equation last year in the District 6 Class A semifinals, when a smaller Bellwood-Antis line was able take the initiative away from the Marauders and wear them down as the game progressed. Wheeler is trying to use the same approach and thinks he has players who can pull it off.
"We have some young guys that have really stepped up. The upside to the guys we have is tremendous," Wheeler said. "We hope they just keep getting better and, at some point, we're going to be pretty good."
There are few questions about BG's skill players. Quarterback Brandon Chadbourn is one of the more dangerous all-around threats in the area, and Damon Rickens gives him a great target at receiver when he isn't spelling Chadbourn under center. Running back D.J. Kitt is a proven playmaker, too.
The Marauders are more the hunted in 2013 after entering 2012 a hunter with just one win under their belt.
"It's definitely a different feeling. Last year no one knew how good we were going to be. We thought we had potential. Things just fell into place," Wheeler said. "Now teams are going to be gunning for you. I think, in the offseason, that helped our game."
With Koontz probably moving to the line, Bedford will have a new look when it comes to players handling the ball. One of the Bisons' key talents, quarterback-defensive back Isaac Kline, already is out of the picture with a torn labrum from baseball.
Sophomore Austin Montgomery, who saw time as a freshman, probably will open at quarterback. Jeremiah Bingham will be the fullback, with Travis Hickey and Kody Blevins pitching in at the other running back or receiver.
"Hopefully we can limit their big plays, and, on offense, eat up the clock and keep the ball away from their playmakers as much as possible," Steele said.