Comfort is a key word for the Brookstone Cougars, and in 2013, they have a lot of it.
As opposed to preseason camp, 2012, when then-first-year head coach Brad Dehem had to juggle installing a completely new offensive and defensive scheme with moving into his new home in Columbus, the Cougars are now totally focused on improving what they already know.
"You wouldn't believe how much further along we are than last year," Dehem said. "That really helps. We graduated a lot of guys, so we don't have a lot of experience back, but they've been in the system, and it's been a huge help. We feel like we can get off the ground running a little bit better than we did last year."
Brookstone lost key contributors in quarterback Duncan Fletcher and running back/defensive back Madison McCluskey—among others—to graduation, but the feeling amongst the team is the comfort and familiarity with Dehem's system can offset the loss of those talented players.
"It's our second year in this system, with this offense and defense, so we're picking it up a lot faster than we were last year," said senior defensive back/kicker Miller Page. "We're a little bit more advanced and everyone is just getting used to it and getting up to game speed."
Brookstone has a history of success, and coming off a playoff appearance in 2012, does not plan to stop that any time soon.
"I think we'll be pretty strong all the way around," Page said. "We have a lot of guys returning. On defense, we have a lot of starters, a bunch of new guys, but I feel pretty good about all facets of our game."
Another improvement this season is sheer number of players. Dehem says he has about 70 kids in preseason camp this year, as opposed to around 40 last year.
"Honestly, I like our depth," he said. "We're challenging each other at each position, and having so many people makes it very competitive in practice, so the more people we can get on the field, the fresher we're going to be in the fourth quarter."
Brookstone opens the season Saturday, Aug. 31, against Columbus at Kinnett Stadium.