(TROY, Ks.) A 2-7 record in the 2011 season stuck around the minds of Troy seniors the entire off-season.
"It was a bit of a let down, just knowing what's expected of us at Troy," Reece Simpson said.
"We didn't really come together that much, and we really didn't bond together," senior Preston Foley said.
But the 2012 Trojans are taking a different approach. They are a group that enjoys spending time together, and they hope it translates to the field.
"It's a pretty close-knit group," head coach Ron Shelton said. "You can take a team that's maybe not as talented as the next team, but if they're playing for each other, playing hard, win or lose it's a lot more fun. You get a lot out of it and that's the whole purpose here."
In year two under Shelton, the Trojans begin their work in the off-season. Many players are getting in the weight room at 6:30 in the morning. It is a sign of dedication from busy high school students.
"They all work. They play baseball, they play basketball," Shelton said. "They have lives of their own. We want them to be kids. But also, we know who wants to be here. It gets them focused, and they come in as a team. They work as a team, and that's important."
"We've had a lot better work ethic this summer, so it's paying off," Simpson said.
The Trojans will need that renewed work ethic to leave the Delaware Valley League on a high note. Troy, along with Doniphan West, is jumping to the Twin Valley League, but will spend the 2012 and 2013 football seasons in the DVL.
Shelton believes the jump to the TVL will put them in a tougher conference, and they will get a taste of it in district play.
"Our district is tough. We play two or three of the schools that are going to be in our new league in our district anyway. It's a smaller league, but actually, the competition's probably going to step up a notch."
To match that level of play, it goes back to leadership for Troy. One of those senior leaders is Reece Simpson, a wide receiver that will miss the entire season after tearing his ACL and meniscus during baseball season. But despite not being able take the field with his team, he's still attending all the workouts.
"It just feels like it's necessary for me as a senior and as their teammate for me to be here," Simpson said.
The Trojans open the season up with a home game against ACCHS.