Over the past 11 seasons, Shattuck's football program has turned into a dynasty.
Spanning from 2003-08, the Indians won six consecutive state titles, accounting for a majority of their incredible 93-game win streak that wasn't broken until the 2009 season. It remains a national record for eight-man football.
After that 2008 title, Shattuck took a two-year break from its stranglehold on Class C. But last year, the Indians shook off an early season loss and brought home another championship, beating Tipton 48-30 in the title game.
It was Troy Bullard's seventh state championship as the Shattuck coach. But after 11 seasons, and an amazing 135-9 record, Bullard left the program he built.
And now, new coach Seth Mills must replace a coaching legend.
“Obviously, it's a great opportunity,” Mills said. “This is the type of program you want to be a part of.”
But for the Indians to repeat, Mills will have to fill the voids left by a talented group of graduates.
“I'm excited, I like how we look,” Mills said. “Like any team, we are going to need some young guys to step up. But I like the talent and we've gotten to know each other quick.”
SHARON-MUTUAL IN THE CROSSHAIRS
Last season, Sharon-Mutual entered conference play disheartened and disappointed.
Expecting to have a big year, the Trojans sputtered immediately, losing their first two games by a combined score of 123-72.
But as district play began, the senior-heavy group turned things around and won District C-1 with a perfect 8-0 record. That included an impressive 38-22 win over Shattuck, handing the team that went on to win Class C its only loss.
During one particularly impressive five-game stretch toward the end of the season, the Trojan defense didn't allow a point, winning the games by a combined 282-0 score.
But the dominating season ended on a sour note, as Sharon Mutual lost 48-30 to Tipton in the state semifinals.
And now the defending district champs face a harsh reality, with a target on their back and a majority of their key players graduated.
“We lost seven and that will hurt us quite a bit,” Sharon-Mutual coach Chris Syms said. “So we are going to have to have some younger kids step up for us. Six of them started on one side or the other and the other one played a whole bunch, so we lost a good group.”
BUILDING OFF SUCCESS
Balko coach Rusty Thomas kept expectations for his young team realistic last year.
Throughout a back-and-forth 5-5 season, the Bison players were given one goal from their coach — find a way to make the playoffs.
And with a 50-6 throttling of Buffalo in the final week of the regular season, Balko accomplished the feat.
“We felt it was an achievable goal last season,” Thomas said. “And it was great that we were able to get a spot.”
Once there, things didn't go well for Balko. The team lost 54-8 to Temple in Round 1.
But Balko returns a majority of its starters from that playoff team, and Thomas has adjusted his realistic expectations for 2012.
“It was great we got there and I'm happy about that,” Thomas said. “But this season, we want to get there and then win some games and go deeper.”
District C-1 coaches' poll
1. Shattuck (12-1)
2. Forgan (6-5)
3. Sharon-Mutual (10-3)
4. Balko (5-5)
5. Tyrone (5-5)
6. Buffalo (4-5)
7. Boise City (3-7)
8. Waynoka (1-8)
9. Goodwell (0-10)
Note: Last year's records in parentheses