The Mancos football team is looking to bounce back after last year's 2-7 record, and with 14 lettermen and a handful of starters returning, the Blue Jays are optimistic about the upcoming season.
Senior Drew Morgan returns after being named first team all-conference in 2014, along with second team all-conference selections Everett Strazza-Whalen and Austin Howerton.
With returning letterman Axel Bonde entering his junior year, Mancos co-head coaches Bill Parsons and Josh Gardner have multiple returning backs.
"Our backfield is going to be strong and experienced," said Gardner.
One of the backfield's biggest strengths may be its depth, allowing Gardner and Parsons to move players around.
While Bonde played quarterback last year, Morgan has been taking snaps to begin the 2015 season, giving Bonde the opportunity to work as a running back.
Paving the way for the backfield will be the offensive line, with both starting guards, Liam Cooper and Brady Sanders, returning around Howerton.
Continuity is key, and with Cooper, Sanders and Howerton beginning their third year together up front, Gardner expects the interior line to be solid.
The experienced players will set the tone, but Parsons also envisions younger players like Casey Orange, Chance Morgan-Garcia and Kaleb Hargraves to contribute.
Playing in the Mountain Conference, the Blue Jays have a tough road ahead of them. And they begin the season against Norwood, who went 10-1 and reached the quarterfinals last year.
But Gardner and Parsons are hoping that Morgan and Strazza-Whalen can serve as a foundation, and with younger players coming on strong, they are set on winning.
"We would like to win our league," said Parsons. "But I'd say our first goal is to qualify for the playoffs."
The Blue Jays began two-a-days on Monday, and their first test will be at Norwood on Thursday, August 27 at 7:00 p.m.