"The defense is pretty much set and very deep," DeLisio said. "With Swann and (Kevin) Drake on the defensive ends, it's going to be hard for opposing quarterbacks to get the ball off quickly. We've also got (Kingston's) Deshong Roach back this season and he's dedicated to using his size and speed on the corners to rush the passer or in coverage at linebacker."
Clogging up the middle is returning nose tackle John Foglia and defensive tackle Kyle Milton.
At linebacker, NAFL All-Star Lee Nicalek, versatile Sean "Conan" O'Neil and Catskill's Kalik Blanks are back.
Blanks will also get plenty of time at the strong safety position.
"Linebacker is the one position where we have very strong starters, but not a lot of depth behind them," DeLisio said. "There are some guys joining us during the season that are probably going to fill those roles and get some starts."
The Saints' projected defensive backfield has All-Star Marques Richardson, Mavar Timsley, Arena Football League vet Jerry North and two recent Kingston High graduates, Mark Jackson and Tyrell Spencer.
"We know what Marques and Mavar can do and North played for the Chicago Rush and is a hard hitter," DeLisio said. "The younger guys will get a chance to contribute, too."
On the offensive side, the big announcement for the Saints was that retired quarterback Matt Chanowsky decided to play at least one more season and will also handle the duties as offensive coordinator.
Chanowsky is backed-up by Rob Patterson-Brown and Jackson.
"Last year, I got the opportunity to call a lot of my own plays," Chanowsky said. "I decided in the offseason that I just wasn't ready to call it quits. I stayed in shape and I love playing football with these guys. It's three hours together I couldn't give up."
Chanowsky is hoping that his dual role could help eliminate some of the on-field mistakes that cost the Saints downs and yardage last season.
"We had a lot of delay of game calls and didn't get the right personnel in at the right time," he said. "I think doing both will be a benefit and I know Coach DeLisio will let me know if things need to change during the season."
Backfield mates for Chanowsky include a familiar crew, tailbacks Maurice Thomas, Jamal Johnson and New Paltz's Anton Armstead. Cliff Cotton returns as the starting fullback.
"Mo, Jamal and Anton will all get their chances and rotating will keep them fresh," DeLisio said. "We'll use each of their strengths and the plan for us is to use a lot of I-formation and play-action to control the tempo of the game. Cliff is really a tailback in a fullback's body and he's the guy that moves the pile."
In the receiving corps, speedy Lennard Byrd from Kingston and Marlboro's Rich Minckler are the starting wideouts, with Ricky McGrath and Kingston's John Stover the third and fourth receivers.
Newcomer Lou Zapp takes over the tight end position.
"You know what you're getting with Byrd and Minckler and McGrath has good hands and Stover has speed, too," DeLisio said. "Zapp is a pure tight end who can catch the ball and run with it just as well as he can block. He's got all the tools and knowledge you need at that position."
The offensive line may be the one unit that needs reshuffling and was problematic at times last year for the Saints.
"We've got guys like James Daniels, Carle Soltys, James Warren and Tracy Bundy, but we need more bodies there," DeLisio added. "The line will be work in progress."
The ever-dangerous Byrd and Armstead will handle kick and punt returns, Tom Hajba is the placekicker and Elvin Selman is the Saints' punter this season.
"We had some problems on special teams last year and we've got (coach) Angel (Torres) concentrating solely on those squads and our conditioning," said DeLisio.
The Saints are expecting that the home-and-home series format against divisional opponents could lead to big things in the postseason.
"We're very familiar with most of the teams we're playing with the exception of Rochester," DeLisio added. "Four of our losses last year were by three points or less and mostly due to mental mistakes late in the game. The guys are showing me in practice that they want to work as a team and are focused on the national championship. We've got to keep winning games and get as many home games as we can to reach that goal."