"Arguably, you could say the group we just graduated may be one of the best senior groups to ever come through Central High School," he said. "That's based on wins and playoff appearances."
The Indians graduated 17 seniors, six of which are now playing in college. Now they sport just five, a group that Wallace called the youngest he can remember since 1996 when he was at Kirksville.
"We just need hundreds and hundreds of game reps, and you're only going to get so many. Obviously, we're going to take those game reps against some pretty good football players."
It's trial by fire when you play in the Suburban conference, so the underclassmen will have to grow up quickly. Having four returning starters on the offensive line is a good start.
"It helps us get going as a team, building around the run game and pass protection for our quarterback," senior offensive/defensive lineman Tim Tremain said. "I like the challenge ahead of us."
That quarterback, junior Jacob Hess, has reason to like his experienced protection. At 6-foot-5, he is easy to spot over his lineman, and with scout team experience behind former signal caller Jacob Kaiser, he is familiar with the system.
Now it is up to the pieces around him to get up to speed.
"We're so up-tempo, so some guys aren't ready for the tempo. They're still thinking in between plays, and we just need to get past that," he said. "We'll be one of the better conditioned teams because of the way we practice, so we'll be running plays before they're even ready. We'll take advantage of that a lot."
Hess and Wallace expect big things out of the sophomore-freshman running back tandem of Israel Smith and Khalik Henderson, with the latter getting some work out of the slot.
With the last practice soon to be in the books, the Indians' audition is far from over. Wallace expects the growth to be a season-long process and to know more about his team each week.
"It's on-the-job training, that's the best term I can give you right now," he said. "These kids are getting ready to play varsity football."
Central opens the season at Kearny on Friday, August 22. It will be streamed live on StJoeChannel.com as KQ2's Game of the Week.
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