The Lone Jack football roster totaled all of four seniors last season. And only one of the four started both ways for the Missouri Class 1 school. In that case, a 4-6 season doesn't seem so bad.
By SAM MCDOWELL
The Kansas City Star
Such a record a year later, however, would qualify as an underachievement.
The Mules return nine starters on both offense and defense — more than half of whom are seniors.
"The expectations are higher on us — we know that and we practice like that," second-year coach Jason Fenstermaker said. "We have a higher tempo to our practice. And with so many returners, I don't have to go over every minuscule detail. They know what to expect."
Another bright spot is this group has already shown the ability to improve when given playing time. Last fall, Lone Jack scored a combined 17 points in its first five games before totaling 142 in the final six.
Quarterback Joey Brandon, a sophomore who started the last four games, is back to lead the offense, with last year's opening-night starter, Nick Kirk, slated to be the team's go-to threat in the slot.
Those two will also double as the team's starting safeties, with all-state defensive end Jake Hopper serving as the anchor of the defensive line.
The Mules are switching to a 3-4 defense.
"I need them to pin their ears back, fly around and play aggressively," Fenstermaker said. "When you run a 3-4, you can't drop eight guys into coverage. You have to be willing to blitz often and take chances, and that means when it's time for our linebackers to go, they are going to have to get it done."