CADIZ - The common word thrown around at most Harrison Central boys' basketball practices has been "compete."
That's will be the moniker for the 2013-14 Huskies, who begin their season at River View.
"Our competitiveness will definitely be a strength," said Huskies coach Justin Clifford, who is embarking on his fifth season at the helm.
"These kids have all competed well and they're doing it every day in practice."
While the competitive nature of the Huskies won't be questioned, there is a lack of experience to an extent.
Clifford had to a double take when he walked into practice for the first time earlier this month.
For the first time since he's been in charge of the program, Nick Pelegreen, Rashaen Mitchell and Fletcher Watt were not anywhere to be found. The backbone of the Huskies program has graduated after brilliant prep careers, including a senior season that resulted in a 16-8 record.
The Huskies will be a relatively deep club, playing no fewer than 10 guys most nights.
Harrison Central returns two starters from a club that was bounced in the sectional by Indian Creek.
Junior point guard Austin Kowalski (5-foot-9) will be the leader on both ends of the floor for the Huskies.
The other returning starter is junior Kalub Mitchell (5-10) who will be in the post.
He was a lock-down defender, which Clifford wants to continue, but he'll also need to take more shots.
Senior David Miser (6-3) will be another on the interior who will be looked upon for rebounding and scoring.
Senior Dalton Rutter (5-9), who Clifford thinks the sky is the limit for, is expected to have a big season. He's a solid ballhandler and a talented defender.
Senior Nate Olmstead (5-10) will be one of the top perimeter shooters for the Huskies.
Senior Cody Evans (5-10) is another adept perimeter shooter, who Clifford said "has never met a shot he didn't like."
Sophomore Dustin Redish (5-10) is another solid defender, but Clifford needs him to cut down on his aggressive to the point where he's not hampered by foul trouble.
Junior Cory Yoho (6-1), sophomore Brandon Mitchell (5-9) and Tison Johnson (5-9) will round out the varsity rotation. Sophomore Brice Walrath (6-3) is another who could work his way into the rotation.
Ticketed for junior varsity action are junior Josh Christian (5-9), sophomore Isaac Arnold (6-4).
A large freshman class working to get into the mix are: Zach Henry, Kyle Roberts, Jacob Barr, Bobby Taylor, Grant Sproull, Tyler Reddish and Hunter Sloan.
"I think we're going to be a fun team to watch," Clifford said. "I know our guys are going to compete well.
"Realistically, if you look at our schedule, I think we can compete with anyone. That doesn't mean we'll win them all or anything, but I think we can give ourselves a chance to win the basketball game."
The Huskies have made a few minor changes to the schedule. They've added home-and-home games with Beaver Local and Shadyside. They'll also play Weir once.
"It's a good schedule for us," Clifford said. "We want to play local schools that have good programs and we think we've done that with the teams we've added."
The one major change for the Huskies comes in the postseason. Harrison Central is in Division III after spending the last several seasons in Division II.
"We weren't really surprised when the numbers came out," Clifford said. "We're always on the border. We go from being one of the smallest Division II schools to being one of the biggest Division III schools.
"It really doesn't matter though because you're going to have to beat someone good regardless of what division you're playing in."