That unsteady start led to a five-win season for the Eagles, who had to learn a new motion offense on the fly, in addition to losing those players.
"It's just a big difference from what it was last year. I don't feel the frustration from losing three guys," Boulier said.
"After losing a couple of starters, it killed us last year," he continued. "I think last year if we'd had everybody here, we easily (make it to the state playoffs)."
Instead, Excel went on to lose 20 of its 25 games, including two close losses to Darlington, a last-second miss vs. Mount Zion and a 3-pointer by Bremen with five seconds remaining.
While they have not had to deal with preseason departures this year, the Eagles must replace their star point guard from the 2009-10 season, Nic Tyler, who graduated and went on to play for Lee University in Cleveland, Tenn.
Boulier understands the magnitude of losing a player like Tyler but believes Excel -- which returns four starters from last season -- will have players who are prepared to step into more prominent roles.
"We did lose Nic, but they all feel that they can make up for it," he said. "Joe (West) feels that he can step up and score 15 to 20 points a game, easily, and I think he can, too. He's shown (that) in practice, where at times he just dominates our practices.
"We've had other guys that are starting to be more aggressive and they're showing that leadership."
Along with West, a 6-foot-2 small forward who can shoot and drive the ball, the Eagles have three other seniors -- Seth Curlee, Greg Gore and Jordan Miller.
Curlee carried the mantle for Excel a couple of times last year, scoring 28 and 25 points, Boulier said.
Gore, who came off the bench last season and may start this year, can come in and play anywhere defensively and offensively, while Miller, a 6-foot-4 center, plays a few minutes as a reserve, he said.
"We got four seniors and three of 'em are gonna play monster minutes," Boulier added. "And I got three juniors who are going to play all the time, whether they start or don't start."
Those juniors are Zach daCamara, Tyler's successor at point guard; Mason Butt, who was thrust into the starting lineup as a sophomore last year; and DJ Garnigan, a transfer from Cartersville High.
Garnigan landed at Excel prior to the school year and didn't get to play with the team over the summer, but wasn't a complete novelty for his new coach.
"I'd seen him at some open gyms where he came and played with Nic, because he was friends with Nic," Boulier said. "I knew what he could do.
"He's having to catch up and do the new things and so it takes a little while. I think by halfway through the season he'll really fit in and really make a huge difference just because defensively, he's solid, rock solid. And offensively, he passes really well. He's not the point guard, ball handler like Nic was, but he makes good passes."
DaCamara won't necessarily make anyone recall Tyler, either, but brings a certain tenacity to the position.
"His biggest strength is going to be his toughness. He's strong; he has a mentality of just aggressiveness," Boulier said. "He's not afraid of anybody so he's not afraid of getting bumped and pushed around. ... He's not afraid of getting hit and if he does, he just keeps going.
"All I want from him is just make the right decision. ... If he can be smart and make the right decision almost every time, he's going to be OK."
Butt started at center out of necessity last year, but performed well.
"He wasn't ready, but he did a great job," Boulier said. "He really stepped up and gave us chances, even though we didn't win a lot of games last year. We were in a bunch."
Out of the underclassmen, Tucker West, Joe's younger brother, figures to get the most playing time.
"He's probably the best athlete on the team right now," Boulier said of the 6-foot-1 sophomore. "He's an athlete. He can jump out of the gym."
"We got a pretty good group of kids. I'm hoping they gel," he added.
If the Eagles come together, their coach feels they should have little trouble surpassing the one win they earned in Region 6-A last season.
"We had one region win last year; we should have had more," said Boulier, whose team is now in a sub-region, 6A-A. "I really think we have a shot at making the state tournament. It's only happened once (2007-08) in the school for boys basketball. ... If we get top four (in the region) and do that, that's a huge accomplishment.
"I believe all (of) our top seven guys, any of them could start and we'd be OK that day," he continued. "I'm excited about what we got."
Even with what's expected to be a long list of contributors, Boulier knows if one player performs well enough, the season should be memorable for the Eagles.
"If Joe has a good year, we have a good year," he explained. "Joe could be the best player on the court every time he steps on the court. At times this summer when we went to camp (at Tennessee Tech) ... every time we fed him the ball and got him involved ... they couldn't stop him. No one there could stop him when we got the ball inside to him. Now, we're going to have to feed him.
"That doesn't mean he gets the ball every time, but every time he touches the ball something good happens and we just gotta remember that."
Excel opens its season today at Mount Paran. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m.