By all appearances, the Blair Oaks Falcons should be good this year.
Under Brad Drehle, Blair Oaks has already established itself as one of the best smaller-class programs in the state.
Last year's team advance to the semifinals --- and only had six seniors on the roster.
The Falcons return waves of experience from that team --- eight starters back on both offense and defense --- and some of those will just be juniors.
So will appearances can be deceiving, well ... if you couldn't beat Blair Oaks last year, good luck this year.
In addition, when the Falcons were able to hit somebody other than their classmates last Friday, Blair Oaks held its ground against Class 4 power Helias. Not perfect, still impressive.
Don't read TOO much into, because it was a Jamboree, after all, which can be as reliable as a politician's campaign promise.
But still ...
"You just go out there and try to play fast and play hard, and that's what we saw our kids do," said ninth-year Blair Oaks coach Brad Drehle. "But the biggest thing I I took away from it is that we saw a bunch of kids who were committed to play for each other.
"If our kids do that, we have a chance to be successful. You have to allow everybody around you to be successful if you want to be good as a team."
The Falcons have more than doubled their senior pleasure, as 13 seniors will lead this year's charge.
"We played 10 or 12 kids on both sides who are returning, and we're really excited about they can do," Drehle said. "Not only did they get a lot of reps, but they were quality reps in key situations.
"They were able to contribute in key situations in some really big ball games."
Among this year's seniors to watch include Jacob Wilbers, Dalton Fifer and Domenic Jamerson, with the latter topping the list.
Catch him if you can. Jamerson would be a game-breaker in Class 6, so he could be a devastating force in Class 3.
"He had a tremendous summer; he continues to get bigger and faster and stronger," Drehle said.??"We're obviously going to get the ball in his hands as much as possible."
He's not the only Falcon who can fly.
"We've had some speed and game-breakers in the past," Drehle said, "but at one time, we've never had a group of kids who can ran like this group can."
Jamerson has offers from four Division I schools: Northern Iowa, Southeast Missouri, Northern Illinois and Southern Illinois.
But with his speed and talent, you'd think he'd get offers from even bigger Division I schools.
"He's had no interest from Mizzou, I have a hard time getting them to look at any of our kids,"Drehle said. "Being 25 miles away, you'd think they'd stop in. We're sitting five miles from Jeff City and Helias and they're there every year, but we can't get them to cross that threshold."
Sad, unfortunate. But it's is a different conversation for a different time.
Not all of this year's playmakers are seniors, as quarterback Jordan Hair returns for his junior season.
"We're excited about what Jordan brings to the table," Drehle said. "He obviously had a tremendous sophomore season."
The Falcons, 12-2 last year, open this season by hosting Moberly at 7 p.m. Friday. The Spartans thumped the Falcons 48-18 last year, before Blair Oaks reeled off 12 straight wins.
"Moberly was a senior-driven football team; their offensive and defensive lines were as good as we saw all season," Drehle said.
"No, it's Week 1," Drehle said. "Football season is a journey and our journey starts on Friday, that's the way we're approaching it.
"But the lights came on for a bunch of kids after that game. We had a bunch of kids step up and do some tremendous things and we just got better and better and better."
By all appearances, the Falcons are headed down the same path this season.??It's go time, even though Blair Oaks is making the move from Class 2 to Class 3.
"Our goals are obviously very high," Drehle said. "The slogan that we adopted in February was "One More," it doesn't matter if it's one more block, one more tackle, one more anything. For these seniors, it's all about One More trip to the Dome and One More state championship."
Don't be surprised if it happens because by all appearances, it could.