(ROCK PORT, Mo.) Rock Port kicked the door down in their first year of 8-Man football, starting week one with a win over defending state champion Worth County and finishing one game shy of a Show-Me Bowl appearance.
"We had a lot of talent last year and we have a lot of talent this year," senior RB/LB Jayden McMahon said. "When it came down to it, Stanberry was the better team, but that's why we're out here... to gain the edge on them."A pair of hiccups to the eventual state champion Bulldogs was the only blemish on the Blue Jays' record
But after spending last summer getting acclimated to the short fields and different schemes of the 8-Man game, this year's focus looks a lot different.
"Having that season really helped us push these kids a little bit harder to get over the hump next year and hopefully get into the state championship game," third-year head coach Ross Hastert said.
"That should be your expectation no matter who you are, where you're from," senior RB/DE Eric Duncan added. "State's your expectation. Anything less than that is a disappointment."The Blue Jays waved goodbye to running back Mitchell Minter and five other seniors, but return a backfield with a trio of fourth-year players that could be poised to pose an even bigger threat on the ground.
"We're going to be strong and we're going to rotate a couple guys through, keep everybody fresh. We've got speed and power."
"It all starts up front," Hastert said. "I've told those guys that so as long as we can execute up front, I like our chances of running that offense very successfully."That plus having senior Chandler Farmer under center has Rock Port thinking bowl in 2013, and with a year of 8-man and a run through the 275-conference under their belts, the boys expect their neighbors to be on their toes when they come knocking.
"The kids know what it takes now as far as the conditioning and the speed and all that stuff. Hopefully we can put that aspect behind us and more focus on the x's and o's and work on the fundamental part of it."
"We're not looking past week one at all, but yet we still have really high goals," Farmer said. "We know what it takes to get there and exactly what we need to do."
Rock Port opens the season on Aug. 30th at Worth County.