There's been a comfort around Deer Creek during the early part of practices this season.
“We've got an experienced team with over 30 seniors,” Antlers coach Grant Gower said. “They've played a lot of football and won a lot of football games. They kind of know how everything works. They know what's expected and know how to approach things.”
One of those players with plenty of experience is quarterback Joel Blumenthal, returning for his third year as the starter.
“He's had a great offseason in the weight room and he's gotten quicker and improved his arm strength,” Gower said. “His 40 is down around a 4.5. He's moving really well.”
A win at a 7-on-7 event at Kansas State over the summer boosted Blumenthal's confidence.
Blumenthal will have a solid target in senior receiver Jared Rayburn.
After being the No. 2 option in the passing game behind Hunter Dinkines last year, Rayburn figures to be the top target this time.
“He's had a tremendous offseason,” Gower said. “He's developed great leadership as well in addition to what he brings on the field.”
Rayburn is expected to play primarily in the slot, while Cale Jackson will take the outside spot.
The Antlers will also utilize returning running back Brennan Miyake heavily in the passing game. Miyake had around 30 catches last year.
On the defensive side, Deer Creek's strength figures to be its linebackers.