CENTER, MO. (WGEM) -- They may have been hit hard by graduation but Mark Twain isn't ready to start feeling sorry for themselves.
"We're looking to reload," head coach Karl Asbury said.
"I know we have a lot of shoes to fill with all our missing individuals but we're looking forward to that."
Only five seniors return this season, four of whom played varsity minutes a year ago.
It's given Asbury an opportunity to focus on the basics and daily improvement.
"We've got to get things down because these guys have not been in the trenches as much," Asbury noted.
"We've definitely got to get learning and fine tune some things. We've just got to get better day in and day out."
According to senior Aidan Epperson, "The senior leadership is going to help out a lot for the younger kids, kind of have somebody to look up to that's been there for four years."
On offense a pair of sophomores - Jace Barton and Logan Perrigo - are expected to get the bulk of the carries at running back, and Lincoln Talbott moves from wide receiver to quarterback, which should give the traditional run-heavy Tigers the option of being multi-dimensional.
"Coach Asbury is kind of leaning towards maybe passing a little more this year, kind of balance out the offense a little bit," Talbott said.
"We're still going to be doing a lot of running as well. (We are) trying to balance everything, long ways to go, but it's a good start so far."
The defense has experience in the secondary, led by Conner Grossmann. Up front, Epperson and Tucker Bruenger figure to give the opposition fits on the defensive line.
"We're going to have to be that scrappy team that comes in every game, and fights to try and win every game," Epperson indicated.
"It's not going to happen every game but (opponents are) going to know that they played Mark Twain."
Overall, it's a work-in-progress and the Tigers realize the season is a marathon, not a sprint.
"A lot of people probably think really low of us. But I'm excited for this year, some new enthusiasm, some guys that want to learn, (and) want to play football. That's exciting more me," Asbury said.
"We're looking forward to a new beginning."