WESTPORT -- With a promising group of freshmen joining the Staples High boys ski team's seasoned roster, head coach Courtney Ruggiero envisions a bright future for the Wreckers.

She also has plenty of confidence in this year's team.

"I think we have a lot more depth and youth now, which I think is going to set us up well for the current season," Ruggiero said. "It's also going to set us up for, I think, a really good next four years."

Staples, which competes at Mount Southington, returns several experienced skiiers, including seniors Henry Dumke and Noel Berry, and junior Ryan Ruggiano. Sophomores Trevor Harker and Trevor Penwell are also expected to contribute for the Wreckers, who are carrying heightened expectations.

Staples struggled at the State Open a season ago, placing 10th out of 11 teams. Fairfield co-op won the title, while Fairfield Prep came in second.

"We've now upped the expectations of the whole team, in terms of who our challengers are going to be, and our goals for the season," Ruggiero said.

The Wreckers will be counting on everyone to help reach those goals.

"I think there's less pressure on one or two people. Sometimes it turns out to feel like more pressure on everybody," Ruggiero said, "because no one's in the position where they can just count on somebody else to take the lead."

The Wreckers' third-year coach said that the team has a "really strong" group of freshmen, led by Campbell Ashman, who has gained experience while training at Okemo Mountain School in Vermont. Grant Sirlin also highlights the first-year group.

"He has had a lot of training and a lot of time in race courses with coaches," Ruggiero said of Ashman. "Any experience can always help."

dbonjour@scni.com; 203-255-4561 ext. 114; twitter.com/DougBonjour