Sixteen seniors graduated from last season, there is a new coach and a new classification.
Change is in the air around the Carlynton preseason football camp but there is some consistency and plenty of production in junior running back Isiah Canton (5-8, 200). Canton rushed for 1,068 yards on 159 carries last season, an average of 6.7 yards per carry. He scored 12 of his team's 27 touchdowns and will have a large say in whether the Cougars will contend in the WPIAL Class AA Century Conference.
Carlynton finished 4-6 overall and 3-6 in the Black Hills Conference last season in Class A under Terry George, who resigned in March after three seasons at Carlynton in which the team went a combined 10-19. Carlynton has not reached the WPIAL playoffs since 2001.
Taking over for George is Mauro Monz, a Scott Township resident who most recently was an assistant at Youngstown State University.
The Black Hills Conference had its fair share of strong defenses with the likes of Clairton, Monessen and Brentwood, but it will be entirely different sledding in the Century Conference with defending WPIAL and PIAA champion South Fayette in addition to Seton-LaSalle, Steel Valley, Quaker Valley and Sto-Rox, which is also making the jump from Class A.
Even though Carlynton is new to the conference, Canton is a familiar commodity to most defensive coordinators in the conference.
"We have a great running back in Isiah Canton," Monz said. "Most people locally and most people in our conference are well aware of him."
This will be Canton's third year starting for Carlynton. He scored seven touchdowns as a freshman.
"Number one, Isiah is a great kid," Monz said. "He is just a great kid, always smiling and always in a good mood. You don't have to drive him or pull him, he loves football.
"Some guys play because it is football and they want to be part of a team, there is nothing wrong with that. But Isiah lives and breathes football. He talks about it 24/7. I can't say enough about his attitude toward the game, he really appreciates the game."
Canton is far from the only weapon on the Carlynton offense. Another underclassman, sophomore Brandon Rogers (5-11, 170) has experience running the ball. On 31 carries Rogers rushed for 155 yards last season.
"Isiah and Brandon Rogers are a great 1-2 punch back there at running back," Monz said. "They are very dynamic. We are going to try to run the football."
If up and coming quarterback sophomore Courtney Mickens (5-11, 150) can develop this season, opposing defenses will have to stay honest.
This will be Mickens first varsity experience this season. He replaces former quarterback Fred McKissick.
"Our quarterback is a very good young guy and extremely smart," Monz said. "I coached quarterbacks in college for nine years and this guy has that 'it' factor. If I was still recruiting college I would recruit him, as soon as you see him throw you know he is a guy who will be a star in the WPIAL in the next few years.
"Courtney is a great kid with great upside and we have great receivers, that won't be a problem. The teams in the league will be the problem."
As difficult as the Century Conference will be, it is tough to contain the excitement of the challenge at Carlynton.
"Our kids are just excited to play football," Monz said. "We do talk about the fact that it is a great conference but I think it is more about the community when it goes from moving from Single-A to Double-A. We have the defending state champs and great local rivalries are rekindled. The kids are excited about that and the fans are excited about playing more locally."