After a 3 and 7 season, the Wichita Christian Stars are ready for a new beginning. And head coach Kyle Davenport says being picked last in their district can be used as a positive, "We definitely use that as motivation. I tell our kids that expectations outside of here aren't that high but that we have high expectations. And I expect our kids to preform and they want to. So we cherish the role of the underdog." Senior Ryan Ivy agrees, "I think we should think about that it should motivate us to try and surprise people. We don't want to get put in a place where everyone just assumes that we're going to finish last." Junior Logan Pipes also saying hard work is the key to the Stars' success, "If that's what they think we're going to do that's fine but I think we can do better than that. We'll just try to work our hardest and surprise some people." And with six seniors on this year's stars squad coach Davenport says this is a team with the potential to surprise. "I really like our group this year we lost two key seniors. But I have 11 guys that are hungry and ready to play."
On the other side of town is Notre Dame. And after a heart breaking loss in the state semifinals to Fredricksburg Heritage in last year's state semifinals, the Knights are as motivated as ever. Even putting the score of last years final game, a two point loss, on the wall of their weight room. Senior C.J. Macha says it's been a symbol of motivation all summer long, "it really helps with motivation. If you're tired you just look up at that score."
Coach Don Carlson says there was a reason that the score went up in the weight room, "The motivation is that it wasn't the team we were playing. I wanted them to focus on the score because if you have one bad game once you make the playoffs, if you lose you're done. The motivation is don't have a bad day, don't have a bad practice day, don't have a bad game."
Notre Dame comes into the season ranked in the preseason top ten, and picked to finish first in their district by Texas football magazine. But the Knights lost 4 All State seniors to graduation three on offense, including center Hunter Quintero, and Quarterback Danny Otto. And while last year's team suited up 6 players over 200 pounds, this year's team only has 1. So according to Coach Carlson, the name of the game is speed. And switching to more of a spread offense, "We competed in the state track meet in the 400 and 800 meter relay and won state championships and all those guys are coming back. So we're looking at it this year as we're not going to be as big but we're going to be a lot faster.
Wes Brinkman will be a key returner of offense. Finishing last season with 12 TD's and just under 600 yards rushing. Possibly the biggest weapon for the Knights is Cody McIlroy, who will be making a switch to QB after rushing for over 1500 yards and 30 touchdowns last year. And senior Tyler Moran says they know speed is their strong suit, and they're ready to tackle a new offensive scheme. "We're just going to have to work at it and be ready to learn. It's just going to take a lot of practice."
Wes Brinkman, says the team is ready for the spread, but that it's going to take some time, "It's going to take some adjusting, because for the last five years all we've run is tight formation. It will be a big transition moving into being a passing team and getting our passing going."
Of course if the Knights can pick up their new spread offense, they can potentially once again be one of the most dangerous teams in the state.
Copyright 2016 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.