HUNTSVILLE (KFSM)--In his maiden season at the helm, Randy Barnhill coached Huntsville to its first playoff appearance in seven years. But the challenges facing the Eagles only grow in year number two.
"You learn the first year and you learn a lot. Going into this year, we're more prepared. We are gonna start some young kids. We went to team camp a couple weeks ago and got a lot better," Barnhill said.
One experienced player is quarterback Sean McCone. The junior led the Eagles to the playoffs last year and returns for a second year under center.
"I think it's a great step because we haven't been there in a while. So now that we got that taste in our mouth we're very hungry to get back and go further," said McCone.
"He's grabbed it by the horns and I think he's gonna be a big leader for us," Barnhill said.
Huntsville may start as many as seven sophomores but find leadership in veteran lineman Bobby Marshall. The senior tore his ACL during basketball season but will be cleared to practice and play in August.
"We need him back for experience, for senior leadership, to lean on when things aren't going right. He's been in the trenches before so it's really important that we get him back," said Barnhill.
Reaching the playoffs for a second straight year is no easy task, especially in the 4A-1. Huntsville faces three of the four semifinalists from last fall's 4A state tournament, including road games at Shiloh Christian and Pea Ridge. The Eagles open the season at 7 p.m. on September 1 at Green Forest.