WESTPORT -- David Bernstein has a lot that he wants to accomplish in his first year as a high school wrestling coach.

Bernstein--a state champion wrestler at Fairfield Prep before graduating in 2005--is looking to rejuvenate a Staples program that placed 13th in the FCIAC championships a season ago.

"Im trying to light a fire and jump-start the program," Bernstein said.

Staples graduated one of its top talents, Mikell Washington, who placed third at 195 pounds in the FCIAC, Class LL and State Open meets.

The Wreckers do, however, bring back a promising group of seniors, led by Jeremy Sherman at 126 pounds. Sherman is coming off a fourth-place finish in the 120-pound class at FCIACs.

"He should have a big year as long as he keeps his composure," Bernstein said.

Senior Alex Brown is expected to wrestle at 138, while Alex Kogstad will be at 160 and Lamont Johnson will be between 138 and 145.

Bernstein also expects a group of sophomores to take on important roles with the team. Daniel Kogstad will wrestle at either 195 or 220, while Charles Lomanto will likely compete around 145 pounds. Justin Ludel is expected to compete between 126 and 130 and Nico Ader will slide in around 130.

"We're deep at the middleweights and lighter guys," Bernstein said.

Staples opens its season on Dec. 12 at perennial power Danbury, which has won the FCIAC 25 of the last 26 years. In five of those championship years (1987, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993), Staples finished as the runner-up.

"There's definitely a lot of potential in these kids," Bernstein said of his team.

Bernstein, who wrestled at Division-I Bucknell University and went on to coach Westport PAL's wrestling program, is confident that he can bring about some improved results from Staples.

"Overall, we should be strong as long as we work hard," he said.

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