For the Greenleaf Friends Academy football team, last year was a practice tour.
The school reinstated its program after not playing the sport for a few years.
The results were predictable for a start-up program. The Grizzlies finished 1-8 overall with their lone victory coming against Wilder’s junior varsity team.
But Greenleaf graduated just two players, so there’s reason for optimism.
“It was a learning experience for everybody especially since everybody was new to football,” coach Tyler Hoaglun said.
Even Hoaglun was new to the eight-man brand.
“I was learning the game. It was an adjustment,” he said. “I kept drawing up plays and adding extra blockers. But it was fun.”
Greenleaf must find starters at running back and center.
Tucker TenHulzen, a senior, returns at quarterback. Three of the Grizzlies’ four offensive and defensive linemen return led by twin guards Aeden and Evan Kincheloe. They’re bookend linemen on defense.
“I feel real comfortable with our lines,” Hoaglun said.
Hoaglun expects Notus to be the clear favorite in the league. After that it’s anybody’s guess he said.
“Everybody else lost some guys,” he said.
Hoaglun will get an early look at his team, which he hopes will include as many as 25 players. The Grizzlies will hold a week camp at the end of July, have a week off and then begin fall camp.
“We’ve had some guys attending some individual camps,” Hoaglun said. “Having a team camp will allow us to do a basic install (of offense and defense) so they have a little knowledge. We’ll get to see the new guys and we’ll do some conditioning and touch as many bases as we can. The good thing is we’ll have more guys with some experience than we did a year ago.”
More than anything, though, going into a second year has Hoaglun encouraged.
“The guys are excited about it,” he said. “We want to keep growing and be more competitive, learn from our mistakes and make those adjustments.”