By Clay Whittington
Killeen Daily Herald
GATESVILLE -- Cole Edmiston doesn't just want wins.
He wants big wins.
A "big win" can be defined in a number of ways. It can be viewed as a lopsided victory, a clutch comeback, a thrilling back-and-forth affair or a successful showing at a critical time.
Gatesville's starting quarterback, however, believes a big win is more than something that simply affects standings: It affects psyches.
And that could prove to be the difference between a mediocre and memorable season for the Hornets.
"Honestly, I think it is going to take big wins and getting to know that we can beat anybody out there," Edmiston said following the first day of fall contact practices Friday. "That helps your confidence so much when you get those big wins.
"Hopefully, it will lead right up into district and we don't even know how to lose. When you do that, big things happen."
With more than 30 players returning, including 13 starters, the Hornets still have a bitter taste in their mouth after stumbling to a 4-6 record last year following a 1-4 showing in District 19-3A competition, and they are hungry to taste victory after ending the season on a four-game losing streak.
Despite the disappointment of the 2011 campaign, the team is unified in the belief the experience caused them to grow stronger as a unit, which they hope translates into some momentum-producing victories during its nondistrict schedule.
Receiver Tyler Jaynes has already seen the motivational effects from last year's lackluster season.
"We got tons of work done during the offseason," the senior said. "We got bigger, faster and stronger, along with experience, which is amazing.
"These guys have a great work ethic and will to win."
Gatesville head coach Kyle Cooper agrees his players worked hard during the offseason and are prepared to prove last season will not be repeated.
"We've got the kids in place, they understand the system, and they understand the expectations, so they were ready to pick up where we left off last spring," he said.
Well, not exactly where they left off.
UIL realignment relocated the Hornets to District 8-3A, forcing Gatesville to acclimate itself to defending more run-based offenses, something Cooper admits his players are not accustomed to after facing spread offenses in its old district, 19-3A.
While there could be some growing pains associated with tweaking their defensive philosophy, the Hornets' offense looks to become a versatile unit capable of exposing opponents' weaknesses.
"We want to be balanced in how we attack people," Cooper said. "It is just a matter of finding those things for us that are going to be bread and butter.
"We want to attack people however we choose for that week. That's a big part of our philosophy is to be able to attack you the way we need to attack you on a weekly basis."
With dual-threat quarterback Edmiston leading the way behind a solid offensive line, the Hornets look to top their 21.9 scoring average from a season ago.
Danny Byrd is just one of the Gatesville receivers who hopes to flourish in the upcoming season.
"All of our receivers are good, and we are all doing our part," Byrd said. "When the ball is in the air, it is ours, and we are going to do what we have to do to get the ball."
And offensive lineman Trevor Barton is focused on frequently getting the Hornets into the end zone.
"Just touchdowns, touchdowns, tons of touchdowns," the senior said when asked what he hopes to accomplish in his final high school season. "We're going to do everything we can do because they have the potential."