NORTHWOOD, OH (WTOL) - Throughout his 32-year career as the Northwood head coach, Ken James led with a variety of teams onto the gridiron. This year's team is young and they will no doubt have growing pains.
But Coach James says his players' youth also gives them an added chip on their shoulder.
"We got some guys who haven't maybe played a lot as they were younger players. So they're pretty eager to get on the field and contribute," James said. "So I think the dynamic there is a little bit different."
The Rangers return only about half of their starters in 2016. James says the talent is there, it's going to be a matter of how they react to adversity.
"Some of our young guys have the ability, it's going to be a matter of how they play when the lights go on, on Friday night," James said. "Practice is a whole lot different than the game."
James says a big key to his team's success in 2017 is the tone set by the returning seniors.
"That's going to be crucial for us. Just what they're willing to accept out of the performance of their teammates, what standards they're willing to set in practice, how hard we go, that kind of stuff. That's going to be crucial for us," James said.
With the majority of the offensive line returning and senior Tim Romstadt back in the pocket, the Rangers feel their biggest strength is on offense.
"I feel like our O-line is our biggest strength because we have a lot of returning guys there, and we have a good young talent there as well," said Zac Heuser, Northwood senior linebacker. "Everyone's bought in on the O-line. We've had a little bit of difficulties learning plays because of the new guys, but we're getting there."
"It's less stressful," Romstadt said. "I know more of what's going on, I learned a lot more, I just got to teach the younger kids what to do now."
Northwood has two weeks to get the young guys up to speed before they open their season on the road at Woodmore.