"It was a lot different," senior Payden Thompson said. "At first we thought he was crazy for wanting to run spread in 8-man."
But ten games into the coach's tenure, the players are all in.
"It was a little crazy and stuff, but we started to pick it up toward the end of the season and figure it all out," senior Travis Peaslee said. "It was real exciting. I think we were fun to watch and we started winning ball games. "
The Cardinals reached the five-win plateau for the first time since 2008, and are gaining confidence.
"We went from winning one to two games a year to .500. That was pretty good for us. It's been a pretty big jump," Thompson said.
Stewartsville lost four seniors from a season ago including veteran offensive linemen Justin Burris and Hunter Yager. The Cards plan to use their speed at skill positions all over the field to pick up the slack.
"I feel like compared to most teams we're quicker all around," Peaslee said. "Everyone's got a fast kid. I feel like we have five or six fast kids. We look to put them on the football field in different sets."
The running back tandem of Thompson and Peaslee will lead the charge out of the backfield. They'll carry the load as Stewartsville waits for senior quarterback Blake Hayes to heal after tearing his meniscus last track season.
"They're different style runners, but they both carry the ball pretty hard," Creason said. "Running the ball, I told a couple of the kids I don't know if I'm going to have enough footballs to go for every down that we have."
Now with the start of the season less than a week away, the Cardinals have fully bought in to Creason's system, and they're setting the bar high.
"I think we'll be up there in the top," Thompson said, "top of 8-man."