(ROSENDALE, Mo.) North Andrew is traditionally a top tier team in the Platte Valley Conference, but a dip in performance during the 2011 season landed the Cardinals a .500 record.
"Pretty mediocre season," running back Quayde Bauman said. "We were 5-5, but this year I think we have the tools and the coaching staff this year to help us get over that edge."
That coaching staff is led by a former 8-man star that knows all about the Cardinals tradition.
Jonathan Schoonover played wide receiver at Missouri Western and had a stint in arena football. He spent the last few years as an assistant coach in south Missouri, but now the Mound City native is back.
"It feels good to be back home."
And his past accomplishments are not going to waste on his new team.
"He's been there. He knows what it's all about," Bauman said. "State championship. College ball. Arena ball. He knows what it's about and will tell us everything about it that we need to get there."
The North Andrew students are listening to everything Schoonover has to say. He upped the off-season weight room requirements, and everyone followed suit.
"This year it's everyday in the weight room," North Andrew junior Kolby Davison said. "Just everyday continuously, so I feel like we progressed a lot more than we did last year."
Bauman, a Cardinal that has packed on about 30 pounds of muscle just during the summer, agrees.
"The way we've been in the weight room is ridiculous compared to what we have been doing, so hopefully we'll have that edge this year."
The Cardinals hope it is enough to put them over the top this season.
"We'll have to work hard and work as a team, see if we can make it there," Davison said.
Schoonover expects that North Andrew drive to make his first year on the perch a success.
"I'm excited about the kids," the first-year coach said. "They've come out and they've committed to a program. They've committed to each other and their family, and they're really giving it all they have."
North Andrew opens the football season at home against St. Joseph Christian.