Booneville coach Scott Hyatt quickly turned the page following last season’s 6-5 campaign.
When the Bearcats were upset by Batesville Southside in the first round of the playoffs, the bitterness of what might have been set in.
The snake-bitten Bearcats, who were expected to compete for a conference championship, following a rare 4-7 finish in 2015, instead stumbled their way to four tight losses Hyatt believes could have gone either way.
“We lost four games by 10 points or less,” he said. “We lost to Pottsville by one (28-27), (Batesville) Southside by eight (21-13), Dardanelle by 10 ( 17-7), and Vilonia by four (24-20). It was just one of those years.
“We were a play or two away from being 9-1 or 8-2.”
The Bearcats will lose some key seniors from last season’s team, including quarterback Hayden Fennell and running back Caleb Draper.
The Bearcats will return a plethora of talent in the form of quarterback Brandon Ulmer (352 yards) and powerful backs Grant Rodatz and Carson Ray.
“The kids worked hard in the off-season,” Hyatt said. “We’re stronger than we been in awhile. If we can fill a couple of spots on defense, we’ll be good to go.”
The Bearcats also have some holes to fill on the offensive line, too. And they’ve also replaced a couple of coaches on the staff, too, adding former Bearcat Jacob Hattabaugh and former Mansfield and Lavaca assistant Wit Overton.
Center Sammy Haynes, who is part of Booneville’s talented junior class, will anchor the offensive line.
The Bearcats are having a team camp this week and have 7-on-7 dates planned for Northside and Alma.