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Eleventh in a series of glimpses at high school football camps around Europe.

There are a lot of numbers in SHAPE’s favor as the 2016 football season approaches.

Spartans coach James Cerf expects to field a varsity roster of 32 players, a very respectable number by the current standards of DODEA-Europe Division II football.

Among them are 13 returning players, giving the Spartans considerable experience. And the team is loaded with key players in grade 12, including quarterback Alex Kimberly, wide receiver Reginald Kirklen III, linebacker Jordan Perkens and lineman Jay Siliphet.

That kind of continuity and consistency is a clear area of strength for the Spartans. But consistency won’t be enough - to rejoin the ranks of the DODEA-Europe Division II elite, the Spartans will need to improve on last year’s performance.

SHAPE finished 3-2 last year and bowed out to old foe Hohenfels in the opening round of the divisional playoffs. The two teams that defeated the Spartans in the 2015 regular season remain in their path this fall, and in fact will bookend their regional schedule. And the schedule adds yet another degree of difficulty to those key matchups, as both are away games for the Spartans. SHAPE visits Bitburg on Sept. 17, and makes the long trek to Rota to end the regular season on Oct. 15.

In short, the Spartans enter the fall holding a mixed bag: equal parts encouraging signs and stark challenges. Regardless, Cerf isn’t interested in moderate gains. His goal for the Spartans is simple.

“Reclaim the title,” Cerf said.

Stripes in 7

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