(FAUCETT, Mo.) The Mid-Buchanan Boys had another successful regular season in 2011, but an uncharacteristic finish as they failed to win a district title.
Now, the Dragons are eyeing a return to the postseason, but eighth-year head coach Bryce Kemper is assembling his team with a little more youth than he's used to in 2012.
"We just haven't had one of those years for a while," Kemper said. "We've been inexperienced but always been replugging with seniors that've been in the program for a few years."
The Dragons bid adieu to All-Conference players Mike Tupica and Jeremy Lance, leaving two seniors to lead a squad hungry to make some noise in their return to Class 2.
"I have to be the example and hustle all the time and do everything right," guard Alex Burkhart said. "But, at the same time, it's a team effort. All the freshmen, they're really stepping up and being a big, big factor in how we're going to be this year."
Kemper and company hope to restore the winning atmosphere they've built in the last half decade after picking up district titles in both Class 2 and Class 3.But they're not resting on their laurels just because they're stepping down a level.
"I think sometimes, with the success we've had, there's a bit of an entitlement issue," Kemper said. "These guys really haven't seemed to have that so far."
"Just because you lower a class doesn't mean you're going to walk to the championship. You've got to work for it," Burkhart said.
It may be young competition throughout the KCI Conference this year, but the Dragons can spend the 2012 regular season molding their youthful bunch as they set their sights on another postseason berth and beyond.
"Our goal's always to try to win a state championship. You might as well set your goals high. We haven't done it yet, but that's what our goal is," Kemper said.
"We're going to pressure the ball this year and we're going to get after it on defense this year," guard Colton Hoffman said. "We'll score on defense more than we probably want to on offense. People say we're going to be inexperienced this year, but I think we're going to come out and surprise people."
Mid-Buchanan opens the season on Nov. 26th when they host Orrick.