One day of preseason camp. That’s all it took to spark a new level of optimism around the Belton football program.
The first day of fall practice included more than 100 players ready to try out for the team. That’s a growth of 15 percent from last season. And it’s perhaps the first signal that the Pirates are ready to change their future culture.
“Part of the battle to improve in high school football is a little bit of a numbers game,” second-year Belton coach Todd Vaughn said. “And then a lot of it is a mental game. We had a deficit in both those areas, but that’s what we’re trying to change. The effort and attitude are great. We’re making progress.”
The trick now, of course, is to transfer that progress onto the field.
The Pirates, who finished 3-8 last season, will run the spread offense for the second straight season. Strong-legged running back Zach Willis and his brother, wide receiver Jaslon Willis, will be counted on to make plays.
Justus Shaw brings some experience to the quarterback position.
“It makes a huge difference offensively that we’re running mostly the same stuff with the same terminology,” Vaughn said. “We showed up in June for summer (camp) light years ahead of where we were the year before. To have those kids knowing what to do already is really nice.”
The defense, on the other hand, will implement a variety of changes once again. Vaughn expects linebackers Josh Hicks and Tucker Elkins to help make those adjustments a smoother transition.