"We were pretty young last year, but you can't use that as an excuse," wide receiver and defensive back Austin Shanks said.
The Panthers went 0-10 and were shut out the first three weeks of the season, but lost only one senior that played significant snaps.
"Just the experience factor, the growth, and maturity factor," head coach Jim Brockhoff said, "it's just been amazing this year how much better we are."
"We have practically the same players. We just have more depth from the freshmen coming up and I think we're really ready," wide receiver and defensive back Jeremiah Copenhaver said.
North Platte still boasts only six seniors -- one being tailback Kyle Bledsoe. Coupled with junior Anthony Hernandez in his second year under centerm the Panthers plan to blow away the 69 points they mustered a year ago.
"Our quarterback's grown up. Last year he was a sophomore and probably wasn't quite ready," Brockhoff said. "Our offensive line's better to protect him. Our receivers have gotten better and better. We've picked up speed."
"I can see myself and the other receivers," Copenhaver said, "when we get that ball, we're going to score."
Brockhoff also added veteran Danny Brown to this staff this off-season. After leading West Platte to two state titles in almost 20 years, he brings an offensive prowess to Dearborn.
"I think he's probably one of the best offensive minds in the state. He was able to come and help us and I thought it was something we needed," Brockhoff said.
"We've got a lot of stuff that we can throw at you," Shanks said. "Up-tempo, we're going and going, there's not time in between anything, it's a lot quicker and we pass the ball more."
The Panthers climb out of the KCI basement won't be easy. The first step is just getting in the win column, but a clean slate has the confidence swirling with opening night just ten days away.
"I feel the atmosphere is a lot more intense," Copenhaver said. "We're really confident and really ready now."
North Platte opens the season on August 22 in Dearborn against Gallatin.
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