A perfect 10-0 regular season last year at Tucker County was only soured when the team came up one game short of making the Class-A title game. The Mountain Lions had all summer to celebrate, and now it's time to move on.
"Before we even stretched the first day, we told them, 'Hey, that was a heck of a year last year. Some of you were apart of it, and congratulations, nice job. But, we didn't finish where we wanted to finish. But nothing we did last year is going to win us a football game this year,'" said head coach A.J. Rapp.
The Mountain Lions will look very different when the season opens than they did a year ago. Tucker County returns just a few starters and has spent the entire off-season competing for starting jobs.
"We've had some guys pick up the pace, and actually had some guys come to us and want to challenge someone for their spot and actually take a spot," said Rapp. "Anytime you have that competition inside a team, it bodes well for the future."
The new look team, will have the same feel on the field. An 'if it's not broke, don't fix it' mentality carries a lot of weight after a 12-1 season.
"These guys have played a lot, but not together," Rapp said. "So we're losing that team experience thing. Especially the offensive linemen, just one returning linemen. The other guys have new roles, and they just need time to gel."
Rebuilding on the field is never an easy accomplishment, especially when a successful year builds higher expectations. None the less, the players don't seem fazed at all.
"We lost a lot of players from last year, and have had a tough time filling spots, but the past two weeks and making progress each day," said senior linemen Cory Halin.
"I'm hoping there is still some gas left in the tank," said senior receiver Dustin Conrad. "It's going to be tough, but, I'm hoping we do alright."
Tucker open up Friday night on the road against Pocahontas County.
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