Bullis prepares for the 2011 season
Outlook: A year ago at this time then first-year Bullis coach Pat Cilento was scrambling to put together a team after taking the job just a couple of weeks before the start of preseason practice.
Despite that and relying on just a couple of pass plays in the first few games of the season while trying to implement a new offense, the Bulldogs led in nine of their 10 games and produced a 6-4 record, the team's first winning season since the 2005 campaign. They also split their four Interstate Athletic Conference games.
Cilento lost 10 seniors, including seven two-way players from a year ago, but after spending a year in the program, including taking the team to a camp at Frostburg University, expectations are higher this season with the return or addition of some talented players, including senior tailback Kevin Jones, the team's most potent offensive weapon.
“It's nice to know what the kids can do being with them all season long and working them out,” Cilento said. “They want to be good [but] we don't have a lot of depth. I'd put my starters up against anyone but once we get tired or have to go with our second group, our depth is quite a concern.”
Bullis had 33 players come out for the program.
Offense: With Bullis transitioning from an option team to a pro-style I-formation scheme a year ago, Jones (5-6, 195 pounds) carried the load, rushing for 1,650 yards and 19 touchdowns on 265 carries, including handling the ball 54 times in one game, 42 of which were rushes. He has a scholarship offer from Bryant University (R.I.).
He is rejoined in the backfield by senior quarterback Kylor Bellestri (6-2, 190), who completed 76 of 165 passes for 828 yards and six touchdowns and also rushed for 320 yards and five scores a year ago.
“Being that it's our second year, Kevin and I know how to work off each other,” said Bellestri, who is headed to Brown University (R.I.) to play lacrosse.
Bellestri, who looks to cut down on his nine interceptions from a year ago, has his favorite target back in junior Nick Fields (6-3, 195), who has already committed to play lacrosse at Johns Hopkins University. Fields grabbed 28 passes for 297 yards and two scores in 2010, leading the Bulldogs in both categories.
Talent and experience can also be found on the line with the return of senior Sam Thomas (6-1, 260) and sophomore Justin Herron (6-4, 265), who has already received a scholarship offer from Villanova University (Pa.).
Defense: Like the offense, this side of the ball changed schemes last season going from a 3-3-5 stack to a three-linemen, four-linebacker set that allowed an average of 20.7 points per game a year ago.
Thomas and Herron anchor this line as well while Fields, who has drawn steep praise for his presence on the field, will attack opposing offenses from either a strong safety or outside linebacker spot. Bellestri could see time at safety as well.
The team's best defensive effort may have been in the final game, holding Interstate Athletic Conference rival Episcopal (Va.) to six points in a 7-6 victory.