First-year Norman North coach Wade Standley understands what he's up against this year.
He takes over a Timberwolves team that went 3-7 last year and doesn't even have the luxury of a lot of returning starters who gained experience last season.
Norman North brings back just one offensive and three defensive starters.
But while experience isn't a Norman North strength entering the season, Standley has seen plenty of encouraging signs after moving over from Liberal, Kan.
“The kids are extremely teachable here,” Standley said. “They're very willing to work. We've got a lot more to do and a lot more to put in before the season starts, but I like the work we're doing to this point.”
Whether that work pays off this season or not remains to be seen. But if nothing else, the Timberwolves figure to not be caught short on experience in the future.
As a sophomore last season, Bryan Payne was in the rotation at running back behind Raymond Demby and Emilio Gatewood.
Now, he'll be asked to carry much more of the offensive load.
“I'm looking forward to it,” Payne said. “I lie the system that the coaches are putting into place.”
Standley is installing a one-back spread offense.
Who will lead that offense remains in question, though.
Senior Chad Ehrhart saw time at quarterback as a backup last season but is in a competition with junior Peyton Gavras for the spot.
Gavras played primarily on defense last season.
To be successful, the Timberwolves must also get solid play from a young group of linemen on each side of the ball.
On offense, the Timberwolves figure to use three sophomores on a regular basis.
All of Norman North's likely starters on the defensive line are either sophomores or juniors.
“We've got a bunch of young guys there but they're working hard,” Standley said.
Another underclassman who could make big contributions for Norman North is junior kicker Redford Jones.
Jones hit a 52-yarder in the Timberwolves' first scrimmage, although against no rush.
Jones hit five field goals last season, with a long of 38 yards, but figures to be much improved as a junior.
“He's got a big leg,” Standley said. “He's going to be a weapon for us this year if he keeps working.”