HUNDRED - It is not always easy for a coach to find positives and to be excited coming off a winless season in any sport, but Hundred's Rex Rush is just that after watching his Hornets drop all 10 games a season ago.
Rush is very happy about his 2012 team's dedication and hard work, and about the youngsters who will be stepping up to fill positions, even though he also lost a core group to graduation.
Gone are Tyler Opyoke, Thomas Preston, Mhar Olayan, Jade Haines and Nick Phillips, but there are plenty of bodies to work with and Rush has been getting the most out of all of them.
Senior running back Chris Varner (5-foot-9, 140 pounds), back and healthy after an injury-filled campaign, leads the way with three letters. Even though Varner missed a quarter of the season with injury, he still racked up 700 yards on the ground.
There are three other seniors, including a pair of transfers who will split time at fullback in Issac Efaw (6-1, 175) and J.P. Hennen (5-8, 225). The other is left tackle Tyler Koontz (6-0, 200).
Joining Koontz on the line are junior center Josh King (5-11, 240), guard E.J. Villars (5-11, 185) and sophomores Ethan Geho (5-10, 165) at guard and Joe Bradley (5-8, 280) at tackle.
Sophomore Brandon Armstrong (5-11, 160) will be the quarterback with sophomore Courtland Armstrong (5-10, 170) and freshman Andrew King (5-10, 145) at wideout and sophomore Brandon White (5-9, 140) in the slot.
Sophomores Logan Kuhn (5-9, 150) and Wyatt Metz (5-8, 135) will both see plenty of action at slot and receiver, respectively. Others available are junior Shawn Derby (5-10, 260) at tackle, junior Jerry Opyoke (5-8, 135), who lettered as a freshman, at receiver, sophomores Hunter Goddard (5-9, 185), Levi Morris (6-0, 145) and A.J. Shackle ford (5-7, 130), all catching passes from Brandon Armstrong, and freshman Aarun Olsen (5-3, 95) in the slot.
Varner will also be the leader on defense, returning as the starting safety and being joined in the defensive backfield by Kuhn, Metz and White at corner. The Armstrong brothers are both back for their second season at the defensive end positions while Hennen and Efaw will team with returning starter Koontz at linebacker.
Junior Rocky Tennant (5-7, 150), a two-year letterman, gets the nod at the nose with Bradley at left tackle and sophomore Matt McGill (6-3, 305) on the other side.
Varner and Hennen will share kickoff and PAT duties while Varner will handle the punting.
''We are a young group, but also a good, smart group,'' Rush said. ''We have a very nice sophomore class that we are expecting big things from and some experienced seniors that are keeping the younger kids moving.
''It is a hard-working bunch and I am very excited about this team overall.''
Nick Hayes and Greg Hostetuler are the assistant coaches while Montcalm, who the Hornets open the season with on Friday night, is the only new addition to the schedule.
''I know it is still early, and we are trying to work out some kinks, but I really like the toughness these kids are showing and everything is fitting together pretty well right now.
''It is just a more motivated group this year that always seems to be ready to go when the whistle blows.''