Coming off a program-best 17 wins last season, the Calvary Lutheran Lions feel they have developed a winning culture.
The Lions are hoping that culture leads them to their first-ever district championship appearance.
Calvary will begin its journey toward that goal when it begins the season at 7 p.m. today at home against New Bloomfield.
“You don’t want to make your whole season about one thing, but we just can’t get past that one game,” Calvary Lutheran coach Beau Monson said. “So it’s that one game we have to get past, that district semifinal game. We want to get to that district championship.”
The Lions will look to replace 37 points per game lost to graduation with the departures of Kyle Hagemeyer and Kwesi Hall last season.
Calvary isn’t looking for one or two players to fill the void, it is looking for everyone to take a step forward.
“Last year you relied on those two, this year we are going to have to identify the identity of this team,” Monson said. “We’ve had the conversation with the boys that one, two players, it shouldn’t be on their shoulders to think they have to step into a role of averaging 20 points a game to make up for that.
“You take all the role players last year and average five points per game to each of them, you make up for that.”
The Lions will lean heavily on three of their seniors: Jaxson Jobe, Jesse Jorgensen and Gage Pavely.
“The three seniors that are returning have been leaders, even last year, just with the way they approach practices and everything off the floor,” Monson said. “They have definitely showed leadership in the past, and I think they will be able to step into those roles this year.”
Calvary has a roster of 11 players it feels a varsity-caliber and plans on using eight players in the rotation most games.
Outside of Jobe, Jorgensen and Pavely, the Lions will also rely on juniors Ben Kuhlmann, Landon Vandegriffe and Israel Cobian, sophomore Edmund Brooks and freshman William Kuhlmann, while senior Ben Hardin, sophomore Jack Schnitzler and and freshman Braylon Schulte are knocking on the door of major playing time.
Calvary is hoping a deeper rotation with scoring coming from more angles make it a more difficult team to prepare for.
“The more well-rounded we can be from starting five to guys coming off the bench, it’s harder to guard and it’s harder to plan for teams where everybody is a threat,” Monson said.
The Lions received their district assignment last Friday and will be in Class 1 District 7.
Alongside Calvary in the district will be Climax Springs, Hermitage, Macks Creek, Tuscumbia, Wheatland and St. Elizabeth -- the team that has ended the Lions past two seasons.
“Of course, we circle it on the calendar every year, and the boys want it just as bad with that St. E game,” Monson said. “Two-point loss in districts last year, we had them right there on the ropes. It leaves a bad taste in these boys’ mouths, they want it.”