NEW MARTINSVILLE - Another deep football run has Magnolia basketball practice a little behind.
Luckily for Coach Dave Tallman, Mark Winters has been there from Day 1 and looks to have taken his game to another level.
That's pretty good for a guy that has already established himself as a first team all-stater and All-Valley selection playing in Class AA.
''He hasn't rested on his laurels and is ready to go,'' Tallman said. ''When you make a statement about guys that work hard to get better in March through November, Mark Winters is that guy.''
Winters, 6-foot-6, averaged 23 points and 10 rebounds per game last season as the Blue Eagles made the state tournament for the third straight season.
''He has gone all over the country and played AAU basketball,'' Tallman said. ''He went to West Liberty and Wheeling Jesuit and Walsh College and saw how hard those guys play and work.
''He is really fired up this season. He has shown that kind of work ethic and it is really rubbing off on the younger kids.''
Winters is a returning starter alongside Stephen Rogalski and Zach Wilhoite. Graduating was starters Jayson Keller and Nick Blatt, along with bench players Hunter Campbell and Tyler Myers.
Rogalski has been busy having a solid season on the football field, but getting caught up to speed will be nothing new. He missed the beginning of last season with an injury and was able to quickly make an impact once he was healthy.
He will be battling at the shooting guard position with Drew Keller and Kyle Elliott, who returns after an injury wiped out his season last winter.
Wilhoite, a 6-6 junior, will play the four.
New to the fold this season is point guard Preston Boswell, a 5-9 freshman.
''He is a player that has played AAU ball and worked his tail off,'' Tallman said. ''He can score, too. He is the real deal. I am not really worried that he won't be able to handle playing point. He and Mark are already forming a good relationship.''
Garrett Emch, a Linsly transfer, will also see time at the point guard.
Mike Winters, Mark's twin brother, will man the center spot.
Hunter Campbell is a senior that saw significant playing time last season and will look to once again see vaulable minutes.
Freshman Kyle Ritz is another football player that Tallman is expecting to help out once he gets back to the court. He will battle with Wilhoite and Mike Winters for playing time.
Junior guard Eric Smith is hoping to see minutes at either guard spots. Sophomore Spencer Campbell will also come off the bench.
''Versatility (will be our strength),'' Tallman said. ''We can go big or go small and we have always been a good rebounding team. Very few teams are going to have the size we do.
''Rogalski and Elliott can score and they can take a lot of the load off Mark. We are a real good team with Mark on the floor, but if he gets into foul trouble, we are still going to have a talented group out there.''
Making things tough for the Blue Eagles this season has been the move to Class A. To accommodate the move, several changes were made to the schedule and Magnolia will play just seven home games.
''I think it will be great in preparation, but I feel bad for our fans,'' Tallman said. ''These players have worked so hard and we get such great fan support. That's why it's important for us to get off to a good start so we can host an OVAC game and a sectional game.
''It has been difficult in the scheduling, but we are going to have to be road warriors this season.''