(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) The Benton Cardinals posted a 4-6 record in 2011, but return just two offensive and three defensive starters.
Despite a lack of experience coming back, head coach Matt Tabor will not right his team off.
"I don't believe in, 'hey, we're one or two years away.' I don't think that's fair to kids that are here now," Tabor said. "But I worry about here and now. We have to get better."
The coach is still expecting to see good things on the Southside even though there are so few returners.
"I still think we have the chance to be a very good football team this year," Tabor said.
"We have a really good group of young kids, so I think we can make things happen," junior running back Dontae White said.
White, a second-year starter, expects a few hiccups as the underclassmen get their first snaps with the varsity, but he's looking forward to helping them with that transition.
"The first few games for the young guys, it's going to be a little amped up, nervous, but we'll try to make big plays and show them that it's just football," White said.
Benton does not have the size on the offensive line to open up gaping holes, so Tabor hopes to expose defenses through the air.
"We have to be able to stretch the field vertically," Tabor said. "We're not strong enough, big enough, or old enough to push people around with nine guys in the box. We have to give ourselves an opportunity to be successful."
The Cardinals will do anything they can to get this young football team some wins in 2012.
"We have to get better," Tabor said. "I'm not going through a season where we're not competitive. And we'll get them competitive and we'll get there."
Benton opens the season up on the road at Ozark.