Pearl River won the Section 1 Class B boys cross country championship in 2011 with a veteran team led by seniors Kieran Brennan, Joey Clinton, Stephen McNiff and Brendan Bateman.
"We lost a lot of quality runners to graduation last year. That is a lot of talent, hard work, success and experience that needs to be replaced this year," Pearl River boys cross country Head Coach Mike Kiernan said. "We relied on those guys for a long time.
"Last year, we were very experienced and had a lot of success all season. This year, I think we will have a much different look in a couple of months than we do now as these guys become more confident in their abilities as they continue to progress."
The Pirates face their first test when they run against Albertus Magnus and Clarkstown North 4 p.m. today at North. They enter that meet with three veteran runners who earned All-League and All-County honors last season -- senior captain Brian Edsall, junior Brian Cook and sophomore Ben McDermott.
"Even though they were on the varsity last year, they are very different runners this year," Kiernan said. "They are at a completely different level from where they have been in the past."
"The section championship is always a goal that the team aims for and is a possibility again this year," Kiernan said. "While we lost a lot to graduation, we do not look at this season as a rebuilding year, but rather a reloading year. The younger guys learned a lot from those seniors that graduated, both in terms of working hard and how to handle themselves on a daily basis. Those guys have put in the work this summer and that is the start to a successful season. As long as these guys work hard and achieve all they can, it is a successful season. With that said, this can be a special group."
The rest of the group is the question at this point. The top five-to-seven runners score in cross country and during preseason, the final four spots were still sorting themselves out from among senior captain Terrence Hughes, juniors Brandon Ilie, Liam McGarry, Kyle Smyth and Devin Boyko and sophomores Domenic Fortino, Mike Mahoney and Sean Mahoney.
"We are young, both in age and in experience, but I am confident these guys can get the job done."
Kiernan said he expected Tappan Zee and Somers to again be among the top contenders in the class.