After losing in the first round of the Class C "8-Man" state tournament last year, the Chester-Joplin-Inverness Hawks are back full force this season. Even though they lost their first game, they say they have high hopes for what's in store.
CJI is going through a rebuilding process after graduating a dominant class of players. However, the Hawks are brushing off a loss in their season opener against Fort Benton and they plan to fix their mishaps to find success.
"We have to eliminate some of our youthful mistakes, and that will come with time on the field," added Hawks head football coach Jim Vinson. "We're going to be a fast team. Defensively, I think we just have to fly to the ball and be very aggressive."
"We lost a lot of our seniors. We have one senior this year," said Hawks junior running back Kobe Tran. "But, we have a good standing line and I believe we have the experience we need to get through the season doing pretty good."
Just east of Chester, you'll head to the "6-Man" ranks and find yourself at North Star High School where the Knights are battling some number issues. With injuries, they only have eight active men on the roster, but that's not stopping them from what they say can be an incredible season.
Small and quick is the name of the game for the Knights. Their roster is short in length and young in age, but with a few practices under their belts, the players are looking beyond what might get most teams down, and staying confident going into their season opener against Custer this Saturday.
"We have a lot of underclassmen this year that are definitely going to have to step up and help out this year because we don't have any juniors this year," said Knights senior fullback/linebacker Devon Miller. "They're going to have to be a part of this team, and I think they can do it. Two weeks into practice now and it's starting to look alright."
"We've been running every practice. Every practice," explained Knights sophomore quarterback/running back Caden Rettig. "Feeling dead afterwards isn't great, but I mean, you have to. We're not going to have many subs. That's the only way. You just have to push through and not get fatigued. When third, fourth quarter hits, it's gonna be rough. You just gotta battle through."