St. Pius X endured one of its more fascinating football seasons in school history a year ago. The Warriors opened the season with six straight losses, a streak of futility that eventually gave way to a five-game winning streak.
By SAM MCDOWELL
The Kansas City Star
With seven starters back on both offense and defense, Warriors coach Rick Byers promises the second half of last season is more indicative of what to expect in 2013.
"The thing about it is those guys just weren't ready for varsity football yet," Byers said. "We had to throw a bunch of sophomores in there, and the speed of the game flew by them. Once they figured it out, they go right at it. Having that year of growing up, I think we're ahead of the game now."
St. Pius X, which was eliminated by Maryville in the Class 3 playoffs, made impressive strides in multiple areas, but nothing improved at the rate of the defensive output. After allowing 38 points per game during the losing streak, the Warriors trimmed that number to 16.6 over the span of the five victories.
Some key players are back to keep that number low. Senior Joe McCoy is part of a talented group of linebackers that also includes Nicholas Kelliher and Gabe Akalugwu.
"Last year we weren't able to get very sophisticated defensively," Byers said. "I think this year we can have a little diversity and show some different looks."
The Warriors also are banking on Marshall Mason to make the switch from wideout to quarterback, with Bennie Palmentere serving as his No. 1 option outside the numbers. Jacob Kelliher is the player to watch on the offensive line.