FROM LEFT: Row 1: Austin Bates, Jason Slomski, Isaiah Rupp, Jordan Willson, Zech Bostick, Christopher Bausman, David Wolfe, Lee Keinath, Robert Hunt Row 2: Nate Wold, Alex Waggoner, Jacob Bayer, Grayson Strouse, Dylan Thompson, Brad Lietzke, Grant Mitchell, Austin Waggoner, Jacob Ford Row 3: Stone MacBeth, Dakota Suiter, Luke Cassaubon, Tyler Clark, Chris Barrus, James Foley, Tyler Watters, Skyler Miller, Jacob Bayer Row 4: Joey Wright, Dakota Underwood, Christian Waynick, Daniel Barta, Garrett LaRoy Row 5: Coaches - Josh Andrews, Andy Ford, head coach Ron Estes, Matt Garno, John Garno, Denny Thompson and manager Phil Kerbawy
THE BLADE/ZACK CONKLE
Coach: Ron Estes, 11th year
Last season: 3-6, 1-4 Lenawee County Athletic Association
Returning letter winners: 21
Returning starters: Offense 7, defense 7
Schemes: Wing T/4-3
Top players: Seniors Lee Keinath, 6-0, 184, RB/LB; Jordan Willson, 6-5, 200, TE/DE; Zech Bostick, 6-3, 260, FB/LB; Dylan Thompson, 6-1, 280, OL/DL; Juniors Dakota Suiter, 6-0, 165, RB/DB; Tyler Watters, 6-1, 235, DL.
Outlook: The Royals are ready to fight back after enduring their first losing season since 2002.
"You can take a year like that and ignore it like it never happened," Estes said. "We've chosen to acknowledge it and fix it. We're not going to bury our heads in sand. We expect to be better."
They should be. Blissfield returns a heap of veteran playmakers -- including Keinath and the bruising all-conference Bostick in the backfield -- and generous size up front. Thompson, who can bench press 335 pounds, anchors both sides of the line. The big question is at quarterback. Sophomore Luke Cassaubon and senior Isaiah Rupp have both practiced with the first team.
"I like both of them, but they're unproven," Estes said. "We've got to be smart and not put that kid in a position where he's got to win a game. He's got to manage it.
"We're going to be very simple. I think we have the type of team that can control the clock. We'll run that clock, and we're probably going to be in some tight games."
2012 BLISSFIELD SCHEDULE
Aug. 24-at Whiteford
Sep. 7-at Hudson
Sep. 21-Columbia Central
Sep. 28-at Hillsdale
Oct. 5-Erie Mason
Oct. 12-at Onsted