Successful and winning athletic programs reload. The Little Giant football team returns nine starters, five on offense and four on defense, but plenty of playing experience to keep expectations high.
A challenging schedule opens with Wooster Sept. 11 and finishes with a trip to Wittenberg and hosting DePauw the last two weeks of the season.
A freshman class of more than 60 bolster Little Giant hopes for the future, but it’s those key returning veterans who must set the pace in pre-season practices. The Little Giants are toiling in the August heat getting ready for the Scots and the dedication of the refurbished football field.
Even though the offense returns more starters much of the offensive line is gone. Head coach Erik Raeburn and the lone returning starter Nick Durm talk about the O-line in the video below.
The defense has more returning players with experience and will be expected to set the tone.
“We’re going to have a defense that will be able to fly around and make plays,” said senior defensive back Jake Martin. “We’re solid at all positions. We’re having competition at every spot. It just brings out best in everybody.”
Pat Clegg, a sophomore defensive lineman who started some last year but played a lot, has found things much easier the second time around.
“One of the big things coming in as a freshman is you don’t know anyone,” the 6-foot, 2-inch Illinois native said. “I have friends on the team so that’s a big help. It’s a huge comfort compared to last year knowing the plays, what to expect - you don’t have to adjust as much.”
With all the focus on the newcomers and on those who step up, the handful of seniors on the 2010 roster are realizing it’s their last go-round.
“Right now you just want to take advantage of every opportunity you get out here,” Martin said. There’s a very good chance this will be last year I have a chance to suit up. It kind of stinks at times but you have to go out and enjoy it. I enjoy every moment. I don’t always think about it (being my last year) but it is in the back of my mind.”
Follow Coach Raeburn's daily comments about pre-season camp on Twitter: @ErikRaeburn