(UNION STAR, Mo.) Football took a one year hiatus from Union Star in 2011, but the program returns to the 8-man world this season.
Already a struggling program that has not had a record at or above the .500 mark in nearly a decade, the Trojans did not have enough players on the roster to field a team.
The numbers are back up in 2012 with 12 players filling out the depth chart. The renewal of the program was enough to pull Ken Boatwright out of retirement.
Boatwright's found success coaching in Arizona, Alaska and Wyoming, and he helped revive the football program at Southwest Livingston. He brings the same intentions to Union Star.
"We don't just want to compete, we want to try to win, and I wouldn't have accepted the job had it not been for the idea that we want to win the football game," Boatwright said. "We're not out there just to wear a uniform. We want to play to a high level."
Playing at a high level will not come easy for the Trojans with just four reserves waiting on the sidelines, but it is a point of pride for the students to represent the school despite the numbers.
"People look at us and say that 12, that's no one participating, but when there's 20-some guys in high school, that's pretty good participation," senior lineman Ryan Hutchcraft said.
And according to Boatwright, all 12 bring a blue-collar mentality to practice.
"Each of those kids comes with a purpose everyday, and they try to get better," Boatwright said. "They realize that we're not deep in numbers, so each of them kind of takes it on as a personal burden. And I think intrinsically, they just want to do more."
Taking a year off from football has set the Trojans back, and the team knows they have a lot of work ahead of them to get back to respectability.
"A couple of us have to shake off some rust and stuff, but I think we're picking up," Hutchcraft said "We're headed in the right direction."
Union Star hopes that direction is toward the program's first season with a .500 record since 2003.
Boatwright's sending a simple message to his team in order to get there.
"Let's change the culture. Let's change the idea that we're just out here competing, and know we want to win."
The Trojans open the season on the road August 31st at Southwest Livingston.
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