Elkhart Central was fired up as they put on the pads and went full contact for the first time at football practice Wednesday.
The Blue Blazers are entering their 5th season under coach Levon Johnson.
After a breakthrough year in 2012 that saw the Blazers produce their first winning season in five years, Central took a bit of a step back a year ago finishing with a 4-7 record. Johnson says injuries played a major factor a year ago and hopes that won't be the case in 2014.
With 12 starters back, Central has plenty of reasons for optimism heading into the new season.
"I expect it to all get better," junior quarterback Antwaan Allen says. "I expect it be better than it has ever been just with us being as experienced as we are. We're young but I feel like we can get it done."
Johnson says the program is getting close to where he wants it in terms of mindset and attitude. The ground level is almost complete and he feels the right pieces are in place.
"Our senior class isn't very big but we got some great leaders in that group," Johnson says. "We have some guys that were young last year that got thrown into the mix and got some experience. We have some guys that are going to have to step up because they are guys that didn't play much and don't have much experience. We have a great mix and a great fit for returners."
As always, Central will open up the regular season facing arch rival Memorial in the Battle for the Mangy Lion August 22nd at Memorial.