New Year, New Team at Benton

By Matt Tritten |

Published 08/19 2014 07:09PM

Updated 08/19 2014 08:24PM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) A new year means a much-needed fresh start for the Benton Cardinals, and a chance to break the trend from the last two seasons.

"Our expectation level is high. We've prepared for it to be high," head coach Matt Tabor said.

"I think the sky is the limit, I mean honestly. I'm not even looking for .500, we're all looking for way more," senior fullback and linebacker Tanner Dredge added. "We all want that bad."

They're setting lofty goals after a winless campaign in 2013, and not recording a victory since August 31, 2012.

But Benton's not burying the feeling left over from the last two seasons.

"It kills you a little bit on the inside," junior lineman Zack Fredrickson said. "But it's been motivating all of us this off-season. We've all worked ten times harder than I've ever seen any of us work before."

"I don't think people will ever understand how hard it is when you lose as many games as we have to keep it together. I think we've done an outstanding job keeping it together around here, and keeping kids involved and keeping kids out doing things," Tabor said.

Benton's forced to replace its biggest offensive weapon from a season ago -- first team All-MEC running back Dontae White.

Ry'ell Dydell steps into the role in the backfield, while Dominic Hill gets the nod at starting quarterback.

Without White to lean on, the Cardinals offense won't be one-dimensional.

"It opens stuff up for us," Dredge said. "Last year we were like, 'oh man we're down. We have to wait for Dontae to make a play.' Now it's kind of like, okay who is going to make the play? Now everybody knows to step up to fill that void."

"We have playmakers all over the place, and so my biggest hurdle offensively is going to be trying to keep a bunch of dudes happy," Tabor added.

A new look Benton will try to spread the ball around and shake the stigma surrounding the program over the last couple seasons.

"That's the mindset, that we go in there and compete at a high level and win. And we feel like we have the group this year to get it done."

Benton opens the season Friday, August 22 against Harrisonville.

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