After a 4-6 campaign last season, the McLoud Redskins look to return to the playoffs for the second time under coach Rusty Hall.
Along with the challenge of improving their record, McLoud also moves up to Class 4A.
“There is no doubt in my mind that we can compete for a playoff spot,” Hall said. “With all of our guys returning, we have a tremendous amount of experience. I fully expect us to be in the playoffs.”
In the preseason scrimmage against Chandler, the Redskins were able to find success running the football. Even though starter Damien Dye only carried the football a few times, Hall was impressed with the offense.
“Offensively we have to be balanced and establish a running game,” Hall said. “Damien will get about 65-percent of the carries and we will mix in a few different guys.”
Dye has a chance to become McLoud's all-time leading rusher. He only trails his coach in the record books. He will need roughly 1,600 yards to top Hall. Along with his duties as the starting back, Dye is getting reps on defense and has played the corner position.
One of the bright spots from the Chandler scrimmage was starting fullback Logan Wheat. He is also a starting linebacker for the Redskins.
“I thought Logan Wheat did a really good job of blocking in the scrimmage,” Hall said. “He was one of the players who stood out. He's always making the correct block.”
New defensive coordinator Stuart Thompson will help the Redskins transition back to a four-man front. The McLoud defense played well in the scrimmage and was flying around the field with a ton of intensity, Hall said.
“Defensively I thought we played decently,” Hall said. “We were pretty gap sound and did a great job of not giving up big plays. We only gave up one big pass play so that was a good sign.”
With the change in scheme, the players are really liking the adjustments, Hall said.
“I feel like we will be able to line up quicker and be more gap sound,” Hall said. “We will be able to make decisions easier and everyone knows what their responsibility is earlier. We will be blitzing a lot and the kids are excited and are responding a lot better.”
For the Redskins to compete at the 4A level, the main thing is staying healthy, Hall said.
The McLoud Summer Pride program, which helps with strength and conditioning was a success this year, Hall said.
“I think we are a little further along in terms of conditioning compared to last year,” He said. “I think the biggest thing is everyone is on the same page. The guys are wanting to workout and do extra things. I have guys calling me asking what time the weight room will be open on Saturday. For us the mindset is changing and it's vey encouraging.”
McLoud's first game will be Aug. 31 at Meeker. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. start.