Despite losing three key members from last year’s 18-2 team, Coach Jack Stoddard seems to have little worry about his boys’ golf team duplicating last year’s success.

“We’re going to be a very strong team this year even though we lost some key players,” said Stoddard. “We’re a young team, but these kids have experience and have played a lot of tournaments this summer and have worked real hard.”

The loss of Phil Sciretta (Nobles), along with Mark Tedeschi and Wes Barrington to graduation, accounts for half of Stoddard’s starters in 2008, but junior captain Jonathan Stoddard will lead a quartet of capable classmates who the coach feels is ready to hold its own.

Juniors Billy Curley, James Magner, Stephan Krall, and Kevin Cuckuk will be joined by sophomore Curtis Owen and Stoddard to make up the Dragons’ top six, while sophomores Trevor Barrington and Cam Daley, along with freshmen Bobby O’Brien and Nick Drago will vie for the remaining two starting slots.

“You always figure on losing players to graduation, but losing Sciretta was tough,” said Stoddard. “I think Magner is the kid who is going to replace Phil. He dedicated himself to getting better this summer by playing at the Harmon Club and did extremely well at the CYO Tournament and the Challenge Cup in RI.”

Curley will also battle for a top three slot and proved he wants it by playing a lot of golf this summer and showing he can be a very consistent scorer, while the big decision for Krall over vacation was deciding to pass on football and concentrate on his golf game, which he obviously did according to Stoddard.

Cuckuk returns after a solid 2008 season and gives Duxbury an experienced golfer in the number five slot where most schools will have a struggle to match the Dragon’s depth.

Owen has had a tremendous growth spurt over the summer and is hitting the ball a mile, according to Stoddard. “I think all he needs right now to be a major player for us is consistency.”

The Keenan division in the Patriot League will play stroke play this season, so the seventh and eighth slots will now play an important role in tallying up the score.

Last year the teams took the five best scores from the six players who teed off. This year the scores from the best six out of eight scores will determine the winner. When the Dragons take on members of the Fisher Division, the eight players will be involved in match play.

“The coaches decided that playing this way would make everyone better players and they’d be ready for post season play,” said Stoddard.

It appears that the foursome battling it out for the remaining starting spots have been taking things very seriously.

“Daley played a lot of golf at the Marshfield CC this summer and has really been hitting the ball a long way, while Barrington came out of nowhere and has really impressed me with his game that he polished up on at the Indian Pond course in Kingston.”

Rookies O’Brien and Drago are also making serious bids, with O’Brien looking like he has a leg up on the competing foursome.

“Bobby has been playing in tournaments for the past three or four years. He’s not a big kid, but he’s consistent with his scores and hits the ball right down the middle of the fairway. Drago has definitely improved his game by playing at the Harmon Club and it shows in his short game.”

Other players who will make up the 2009 squad include: senior Zach Benoit (his game shows steady improvement), sophomores Pat Gearin (has worked on his game at the North Hill course) and Jeff Gaita, along with freshmen John Higgins and Jack Ball.

Although the team is loaded with underclassmen, Stoddard is confident that the Dragons are the team to beat in the Patriot League.

“Hingham always has a good team, and Hanover and Pembroke played us tough last year, but I really feel we are the team to beat. We may be young, but all our kids have experience and have been playing for two or three years.”

After opening the season last week against Xaverian, the Dragons are hoping to best last year’s fifth-place finish in the state finals.