9th year

2016 record: 1-4 PAL Bay, 4-6 overall

Key returners: Jeremy Teteak (Sr., QB/WR); Nick Hulman (Sr., OLB/RB); Joey Sabel (Sr., WR/SS); Charles Gingold (Sr., G/DT); Declan Hart (Sr., OT/DT); Jose Valdivia (Sr., DE/TE); Connor Mullen (Sr., DL); Jaime Torres (Sr., DT)

Key newcomers: Evan Badet (Sr., QB/WR); Quincy Sherman (Jr., WR/RB); Jordan Avalo (Sr., slot/SS); Alex Tototzintle (Jr., MLB/WR)

2017 opener: Fri. vs. Laguna Hills, 7:30 p.m.

Outlook: In the span of four years, Hillsdale ran the gamut of the Peninsula Athletic League.

After climbing out of the “C”-league Peninsula Athletic League Lake Division after 2013, to the “B”-league PAL Ocean Division in ’14, the Fighting Knights ascended to the “A”-league PAL Bay Division last season. But after their share of struggles, the Knights finished tied for last place with Terra Nova, prompting a demotion back to the Ocean Division.

“It is what it is,” Hillsdale head coach Mike Parodi said. “We need to make sure we stay healthy and try to create depth within our program. I think that’s the reason we’re back down right now. I think if we’re healthy we compete in the Bay last year.”

After winning its first two non-league games last season, Hillsdale lost its starting quarterback to injury, and soon turned to Jeremy Teteak, who started the year as the team’s third-stringer. The left-handed thrower went on to play in six games, racking up 1,174 yards passing while firing for 15 touchdowns.

Now a senior, the 6-5, 205-pound Teteak is slated to lead the one-back offense with a slew of new receivers. Senior wide out Joey Sabel is the one mainstay set to return with a complement of first-year seniors Jordan Avalo and Evan Badet giving him plenty of options.

“[Teteak] is slated to be the No. 1 guy,” Parodi said. “He had a great offseason … he was fortune enough to get a few starts in last year … so I think he has a very bright future for sure.”

Senior running back Nick Hulman figures to be the key component to the one-back attack. At 5-10, 200 pounds, Hulman is a more straightforward runner than the speedsters Hillsdale has fielded in recent years. While he ranked second on the team in carries last year, he only touched the ball 39 times compared to that of his then-senior counterpart Nate Rosas’ 237 carries for 1,118 yards.

“The last few years we’ve been very shake-and-bake,” Parodi said. “Nick’s a little more downhill, get the shoulders square and go through you.”

Hulman has previously been more synonymous with defense, and enters his third season as a starting linebacker in the 4-3 formation. With five returning defensive linemen, though, the biggest strength should be up front as the Knights look to run the table in Ocean Division play once again, as they did in 2015.

“We don’t see [falling to the Ocean Division] as anything but a chance to work our way back up,” Parodi said.