The McQueen football team returns only five starters this season, but that doesn't present the same problem for the Lancers that it could for most Northern Nevada teams.
The defending state champions have a tradition of winning that starts and ends with each new senior class. The seniors may enter their final season as unknowns, but they bring with them an attitude and intensity developed during the previous year while practicing against some of the best football players in the state.
"We're always a senior-laden team," McQueen coach Ken Dalton said. "All of these kids are very young and inexperienced. They need some seasoning in game situations, but they all understand the tradition of winning and how important it is to us."
Dalton also said that former all-state and all-region players attend every McQueen practice to help remind the Lancers of the importance of acting right on and off the field.
McQueen will play host to Douglas at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the Northern 4A opener for both teams.
The Lancers have three returning starters on their offensive line. Matt Leary(6-1, 207) and Eric Pink (6-1, 193) both return at guard, while Moho Otuafi (6-2, 202) is back at tight end.
Wide receiver J.J. Myatt (6-4, 216) is the only other returning starter on offense.
Lineman Charles Tolbert (6-1, 222) is one of three returning starters on the defense. Otuafi is a returning starter at linebacker and Myatt returns at one of the defensive end positions.
Dalton laughed when asked how he was going to replace Chris Carr, who with a 4.51 40-yard days time, was the faster player ever at McQueen.
"You simply don't replace Chris Carr," said Dalton of the player who accepted a scholarship from Bosie State. "And I'm not just talking about his athletic ability. We also miss his character and his leadership."
Dalton said the Lancers will look to several players to make contributions at running back. K.C. Dalton (no relation) and Joe Chrisman are McQueen's top two fullbacks. Dalton is a 6-0, 175-pound senior. Chrisman is a 5-10, 195-pound junior.
Kevin Suter (6-0, 215) and Doug Barker (5-10, 155) will get most of the carries from the halfback position. Senior Jeff Rowe (6-5, 195) steps into the starting quarterback position for the Lancers.
"We think he has the potential to really be a great leader for us," said coach Dalton, who also said that rumors of a wide open passing attack at McQueen are a bit off the mark. "We always look to pass, but we're going to run the ball. We're looking for a 60-40 split between running the ball and passing it."
Dalton also said his players are excited about the prospect of playing the Tigers on Friday - their first journey to see if they can match the 14-0 season of last fall.
"We always look forward to playing Douglas," Dalton said. "They're always well-coached and physical. We always look forward to a good game from Douglas."