(WATHENA, Ks.) 2011 marked a big coming out party for the Riverside Cyclones, posting a 9-2 record in the first season after the Wathena-Elwood merger.
Now, with two-a-days underway in Kansas, head coach Scot Koranda and crew know they have their work cut out for them if they want to match that mark.
"Graduating sixteen seniors, we're sure going to miss those guys," Koranda said. "You're going to take a big hit whenever you graduate that many guys, especially as talented as that class was."
"Losing Timmy Miller, Derek Nold and some receivers. Brandon Bell, Blaine, Ryan Johnson, our center," junior tailback Derek Pummel said. "But I think we have some kids filling their spots pretty good."
It is a loss to waive goodbye to players like all-state defensive tackle Ryan Johnson, who anchored a sizeable defensive line last season.
But that hasn't made Koranda or senior linebacker Kyle Studer too worried about the defensive side of the ball.
"Defense is going to be good. We're going to be a strong core," Miller said. "We've got some good linebackers coming back and our defensive line is going to be big and tough. Hopefully we can get some good stops and lots of losses."
The Cyclones must retool on offense as well, having lost key contributors like quarterback Derek Nold, and all-state tailback Timmy Miller, who accounted for over 1,500 yards and 24 scores last year.
Now, it's up to younger guys like Andrae McGaughy under center, and Pummell to keep the Cyclone offense cooking.
"Andre Mcgoy, he's going to do good," Studer said. "He's got a big role to step into Derek Nold as a sophomore. But I think he can do it and pull together a good, winning season."
early, and there are some questions facing the group going forward, but one
thing's for certain: there's no more Elwood and Wathena.
After last year's success, there is only
"The more they can work on that and believe that and become that team, I just believe success follows that," Koranda said.