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.”
MORE FROM NEWSOK
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