Preparation for Beach Buccaneers 2019 football season started a little later than coach Mike Zier had hoped for. He planned to get his team on the practice field the first minute that he was allowed to coach them up. A 12:01 a.m. practice was scheduled for Monday, Aug. 12, but Mother Nature had other plans as a storm with heavy rain and lightning postponed the first practice until late Monday afternoon.

The Buccaneers roster consists of 23 players this fall, and Zier said he believes his team is in a good spot concerning participation and outlook.

“I am very happy with our numbers right now,” Zier said “We are one of the few teams in nine-man that are not a part of a co-op. Having 23 come out is huge for practice. We can go nine-on-nine, and that gives us competition for spots, which is good.”

Beach opens the season in Scranton on Friday, Aug. 23, againsts Hettinger-Scranton.

At quarterback, Gage Swanson and Tevin Dietz will lead the Beach offense.

“Both are going to play quarterback,” Zier said. ”We will have to see how it goes throughout the season. The good thing is that when one is playing quarterback then the other is going to be somewhere on the field.”

Looking back at last fall, the Buccaneers were a win away from qualifying for the playoffs, but an injury to Swanson before the last game of the year contributed to derailing their postseason hopes.

Zier said he expects this year to be much of the same, believing his team has potential and can be fighting for a playoff spot late in the year. The Buccaneers will be will be replacing several key figures from last year's team, including powerhouse trio Clay Mattern, running back/linebacker; Bailey Frieze, defensive lineman/linebacker; and Jared Wojahn, the speedy tight end/linebacker, who all graduated.

Despite the losses, Zier has no concerns leading into this new year.

“All high school coaches have to deal with replacing players each year,” he said. “Some players will have to step up. We need to ride our strengths, and we need to improve our weaknesses.”

Zier hopes that last year’s underclassmen can be leaders and win the battle in the trenches for running backs Tyson Mattern and Kaden Volk who the coach says will be carrying the load. Blake Van Horn and Kyle Sarsland seek to anchor the offensive line.

Trin Schumacher and Chance Manhart are younger players who Zier has high expectations for this fall. Both added weight and speed in the off-season in hopes that they have break out performances this year.

Jhett Farstveet will be a senior leader in the secondary, and he hopes to build on last season’s successes. The Buccaneers will need Farstveet to man the back end and get push up front in order to improve their defense from last fall.

Beach will see a couple of familiar faces on its schedule this season, but there are also five new teams in the region who pose unique challenges to the budding playoff contenders.

Mott-Regent-New England and Hettinger-Scranton are the nearby opponents, while several other teams on the schedule are from the eastern half of the state, where time zone changes and travel fatigue could be a hurdle the Bucs have to overcome.