ELKINS (KFSM)--Last year was a culmination of sorts for Elkins football. The Elks burst from mediocrity beind 17 seniors, winning nine games and their first conference championship since 1993.
Of course, seniors graduate. And now that they've tasted success, the Elks have to deal with a new set of expectations.
Jace Shirley, a senior defensive end, reflects on this.
"We had 17 seniors, they got the job done, so we're really trying to fill the roles and really kind of fill in a part of that success."
Senior Layne Evans thinks they can learn from the leadership of last year's seniors.
"The guys who play a lot need to step into that role like the seniors did last year...I think we'll be perfectly fine."
While the Elks lose a chunk of their starters, that doesn't mean they lack experience, says second year head coach Chad Harbison.
"All those guys got to play a lot last year so it's not like they haven't been on the field, not like they don't know what it's going to be like. So they filled in there pretty well."
And he says they'll take the replace by committee approach when it comes to former running back Colten Vaught and his 30 touchdowns.
"We're just gonna have to be able to spread it around and let guys step up. It could be a different guy every night, you just never can predict that."
Coach Harbison took over in June last year, so this is his first full off-season with the team. The difference has been evident.
"Everything's quicker," says senior Rory Clouse . "We've gotta hustle more, it's uptempo, college style...best thing that's ever happened to us."
All that's left is for this team to believe in their ability to not only replace last year's players, but last year's success.
"It was pressure at first,' says Shirley. "But we really got together over the summer and we're feeling confident this year."
Clouse thinks that confidence is key.
"We're gonna be good, but we gotta believe that too."
Elkins kicks off the season September first at Shiloh Christian.