BELTON — After going 2-8 last season, with its only two wins coming in league play, Belton is eager to get back on the field this fall.
Despite having a new head coach in Bob Shipley, linebacker Tevin Jones said he felt the rest of the district may need convincing that the Tigers are truly a different team than last year.
And that has him eager for the games to begin.
“I’m pretty excited just to prove people wrong,” Jones said.
Before Belton can begin doing that, however, it still needs its full coaching staff and playbook.
Shipley said he has finished hiring his staff — 80 percent of which will be new — but some haven’t arrived in Belton yet.
He also said the team has installed its basic offense and defense but, without a full staff, has yet to install everything the Tigers will ultimately utilize next season.
Because of that, even Belton may not know what it truly has until the fall.
“I have very high expectations of kids and the coaches,” Shipley said. “So it’s one thing to look good in a weight room, look good on a track and in spring ball to a degree going against your teammates.
“But we’ll find out for real next fall.”
Rising senior Shane Stafford appears entrenched as the starter under center after starting at quarterback last season.
And the Tigers will certainly benefit from having him a year of experience under his belt.
“I’m a lot more confident,” Stafford said. “Towards the end of the year, I started getting a feel for everything, and I’m just going to take all that going into next year.”
But Stafford acknowledged that if Belton wants to improve in the win column next year it must improve in every aspect as a team.
“As a unit,” he said, “we need to improve all around.”
Shipley said that, heading into the last week of spring practice, the players have done a good job of practicing at a high intensity and grasping the concepts the coaches have tried to impart on them.
Now, the Tigers just need to finish strong so they can hit the ground running in the fall — and hopefully begin proving doubters wrong on Friday nights.
“We’ve pretty much got everything installed offensively and defensively that we want to get installed at this point, the basics of our offense and defense,” Shipley said.
“So, we just want to try to polish it up and end up on a good note with as few mistakes and mental busts as possible and take some momentum going into the summer with the guys — and end everything with a positive note.”
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