The Ingalls Bulldogs football team returns to the field this fall coming off a 7-3 season, and as regional champions and sectional runners-up.

It’s been nothing new for the Bulldogs, head coach Vestal Teeter said. It’s also not the ending the Bulldogs are settled on as they prepare for the 2018 season.

“We’ve done that three out of the last four years,” Teeter said. “We’re hoping to make that next step this year.”

The team returns much of its nucleus, but also has some youth getting read to step up to fill spots vacated by graduation.

“We’re really excited about our opportunities,” Teeter said.

The Bulldogs fall in District 8 this season and in 2019. This puts them in a district with Bucklin, Chase, Minneola, Otis-Bison, Satanta and Stafford.

Those teams (excluding Ingalls’ 7-3 record) went a combined 25-30 overall last season, according to KPreps.com.

That may not make the district seem insurmountable, but some of the opponents within it present real challenges, especially in the case of Otis Bison, which beat Ingalls 60-14 last season before falling to 42-16 to Hodgeman County in the playoff sub-state round.

Teeter said he is always focused on the first game, of course, before the start of the season, but the Otis Bison game once the team gets into districts will be tough, as will some other opponents within the district.

It has been at least a couple of years since the Bulldogs took on three of their opponents which are on the schedule for this coming season, Teeter said, and that presents challenges, in part because it’s hard to know without playing them who those teams still have and who they have lost due player-wise to graduation.

“Not seeing any game-film on them for a couple years, it’s gonna be interesting to get ready and prepare for those guys,” Teeter said.

The Bulldogs strength this year will be the players at its skill-positions, Teeter said.

“We returned every one of them, with the exception of our running back,” Teeter said. “But we have the backup running back who’s really gonna be just fine there.”

Their quarterback enters his second season as a starter, Teeter said.

Along the offensive and defensive lines, the team doesn’t return a lot its perennial starters from last year, but there are a lot of younger players that could move up and fill those voids.

“We have one returning starter, and then we’ve got some that saw some action last year but weren’t starters, and they made some good strides this summer during weights and conditioning,” Teeter said. “That should be the strength.”

Vulnerability-wise, the Bulldogs come in with questions in the defensive backfield, where Teeter said he lost a couple of players from last season to this one.

A key x-factor for the team this season will be how the new players that fill those roles perform: Will they step up and play the way Teeter knows they are capable of, or will they struggle as they start a season for the first time on varsity football.

“If they don’t come out ready to play, then it may be a little bit longer of a season for us,” Teeter said. “But I really think they’re ready to step up and do their jobs. That’s what we talk about in practice: You do your job and you know that the guy beside you’s gonna do his.”