Shannon Jolley has the Eldon Mustangs headed in the right direction. Now he has to keep them going in that direction.
Just four years removed from a winless season, Eldon took home the district title last year, finishing with an 8-5 record and a trip to the quarterfinals.
But the Mustangs will have to replace a lot of talent as they return six starters on offense and five on defense. Running back Sheyne Stafford, who rushed for nearly 2,000 yards and 21 touchdowns, graduated. Senior Raymond Kwok likely will handle the load in the backfield while senior quarterback Wyatt Greenwalt is back under center.
Eldon, which received votes in the Class 3 preseason state rankings, opens the season Saturday afternoon at Miller Career Academy.
Hallsville's first year in the Tri-County Conference wasn't too shabby. They are looking to improve in Year 2.
After going 6-4 in 2012, the Indians will have to replace eight starters on each side of the ball. That includes a new quarterback and running back. Joey Forge will step in for the Indians under center. He saw limited action last season as a backup to Levi Howard.
Skyler Creed is expected to step in at running back to lead an Indian's squad that averaged 221 yards per game on the ground last season.
Hallsville opens the season Friday night at home against Fayette.
School of the Osage
School of the Osage will be looking to break in a new quarterback this year. After all-stater Bo Dean transferred to Camdenton for his senior year, it's Austin Riley's turn to take over. He played in six games last year completing 14-of-33 passes for 195 yards and three interceptions as the team finished 7-5.
He should benefit with the return of all-state receiver Dylan Jeffries. Jeffries had more than 77 catches for almost 1,300 yards last season and also played a big part on the defense with three interceptions. School of the Osage, which lost to Eldon 42-7 in the district title game last year, will be a team with some varsity experience this season with seven starters back on defense and six on offense.
School of the Osage, which is just out of the preseason top 10 in Class 3, opens the year Friday at Fulton.
Close games were a nightmare for the Eagles last season. The trouble paved the way for a 1-9 record they are hoping to improve upon this season.
The Eagles lost five games by 11 points or less, including losses to Eldon and Hallsville by two points.
Senior quarterback Brice Mueller takes over at quarterback this season. He played in six games last year completing 13-of-32 passes for 116 yards. Returning at running back for the Eagles is senior David Holland who ran for 722 yards last season.
Southern Boone's lone win last year came against Tolton.
The Eagles open the season Friday night at home against Kirksville.
Not a lot went right for Versailles last season. The Tigers won just one game and dropped their final eight games on their way to a 1-9 season. Aside from a 44-43 loss to Warsaw, most of Versaille's games were not close.
It's a fresh slate for first-year head coach Broc Silvers who comes to Versailles after serving as Eldon's defensive coordinator. Quarterback Michael Allen and running back Johnathan Cunningham will guide the offesnse.
The Tigers open the season Friday at Knob Nostser.
In his first year on the job, Warsaw coach Blake Markway led the Wildcats to a 2-8 season. It may not seem like much, but Warsaw was much more competitive than 2011 when it went 1-10.
The Wildcats showed signs of life with a 44-43 win against Versailles and a 25-14 victory against Southern Boone. They also hung around in a 19-13 loss to Cole Camp and a 30-23 loss to Eldon.
Jeremy Eierman returns at quarterback for the Wildcats and he could split time with Mike Maybee, who missed time with an injury last season.
The Wildcats open the season Friday at home against Clinton.
Fourth time's a charm? The Camdenton Lakers have reached the Class 5 state quarterfinals for three consecutive seasons. Is this the year they break through to the semifinals?
Camdenton returns just four starters on offense and seven on defense from an 8-4 team in 2012.
The Lakers, No. 7 in Class 5, open the season Friday at home against Springfield Hillcrest.
Certainly a program on the rise, South Callaway has compiled a 10-2 record in both of the past two seasons.
Behind a strong running back trio that includes Class 2 second-team all-stater Garner Rudroff (996 total yards, 19 touchdowns), third-team all-stater Cory Hanger (810 yards total yards, 10 touchdowns) and Zack Marty (435 yards rushing, two touchdowns), the Bulldogs look poised for another solid season.
Tim Rulo is 42-16 in his five seasons as head coach and returns seven starters on both offense and defense.
The Bulldogs, No. 6 in Class 2, open the season Friday at home against North Callaway.