Among the powerhouse football teams in the Southern Plains - Iroquois Activities Association is the South Gray Rebels, who enter this year coming off one of their better seasons in the last few.
They finished 7-2 last season after playing a lot of really good opponents, head coach Jesse Hodgson said.
This year, won’t be any easier. South Gray plays in a very tough eight-man district alongside Spearville and Hodgeman County to name just a couple.
Hodgson said he thinks of that motto that goes “In order to be the best you gotta beat the best.”
"We have to kind of live that motto this year, because our district is pretty stacked, with Hodgeman County, Spearville, Ness City, us, Kiowa County and Kinsley,” Hodgson said.
The offensive line is also experienced, with a center and right guard that have played since their sophomore years, he said.
"Right now we're trying to figure out who that third offensive lineman is and we've got some tight end spots that are up for grabs, but I like the kids that are filtering in right now,” Hodgson said.
Last year’s team had 22, about four more than this year’s team so far, though Hodgson said he thinks that number will actually get to 19.
Though the quantity isn’t there, he said the quality absolutely is.
For the most part, those positions where players are returning are the ones he feels best about he said.
As for Austin Jantz, he’ll be switching from the offensive side to the defensive side to play in one of the linebacker positions.
"He played a little bit of that last year but we had two really good seniors from last year. So it's a transition for him, but one that I'm fully capable he'll excel in,” Hodgson said. “If you watch the basketball stuff, he's just an athlete that moves well."
He’ll be one of the linebackers that helps the linebacking corps a real force going into the season, Hodgson said.
"The middle of our defense is gonna be, we have two linebackers that almost 200 pounds and over 6 foot, and they're athletic,” Hodgson said. “We're not just putting big slow guys there, so I feel really comfortable there."
The team will have two new players at the outside linebacker position, but one will be a senior and one a junior, so Hodgson said he expects them to pick up the schemes quickly enough.
Otherwise, the major question will be who plays the second tackle position.
“We could either go someone or with someone small and shoot gaps, right now it's just kinda up in the air,” Hodgson said.