WYANDOTTE - After 24 days of prep work, its showtime for Wyandotte.
The retooled Bears kick off the 2012 season Friday night by traveling to Fairland.
“I am just glad it's here,“ Wyandotte coach Scott Martin said. “This is what all the work is for – Friday night.”
The Bears hope to repeat last season’s dazzling turnaround that saw a program that went 0-10 in 2010 to 9-3 and the second round of the Class 2A playoffs in 2011.
They beat Newkirk 8-6 in the first round, then suffered a 59-8 loss at third-ranked Stroud.
The nine-win turnaround was tops among playoff teams in all classes in 2011.
“It was fun,“ Martin said. “The kids did a great job and worked hard. The coaches worked their tails off. Whether you are 0-10 or 9-3, you are going to work the same or harder. The kids paid a price, just like they have going into this season.
“We got lucky a lot of times, but you need luck. If you work hard, you get lucky. With this team, you can’t ever foresee the future, but they have worked just as hard and have paid the price. We look forward to the season.”
The Bears ended a 23-game losing streak in last year's opener, coasting to a 26-0 decision over Fairland.
It was their first since a 14-7 decision over Chelsea on Oct. 16, 2008. They had gone winless the previous two seasons.
The Bears are having to plug holes created by the graduation of nine starters: Justin Walton, Tate Smith, Colton McCloud, Scotty Rotzal, Dalton Cummings, Martin Torres, Mitchell Weisinger, Chris Carr and Leng Cha.
The roster includes four seniors: Brady Barrett, Andrew Douthit, Trapper Reeves and Alex Torres.
Martin liked what he saw in the Bears’ final tuneup, a scrimmage last Thursday with Westville.
“I thought it was a good scrimmage,” Martin said. “The kids really worked hard and we got out of it what we needed.”
Martin is glad to get the season started.
“You never really know where you are at until that first game,“ he said. “As long as the kids worked hard, that is the main thing. We will see Friday.”
This will be the 79th meeting between the teams. WHS holds a 43-33-2 edge in a rivalry that dates back to 1930.
However, the teams have split the previous four meetings.
Martin downplays the rivalry aspect of the game.
“It's our first opponent, our first roadblock,” he said. “We don’t really talk about those type things. The kids all know each other and the rivalry is there, but we don’t talk about rivalries and all that type stuff. We just go one week at a time.”
The Owls had been picked as a second-division team in District A-8 for 2011, but finished second and hosted a playoff game for the first time since 1988.
They had replaced 11 starters lost to graduation the year before and struggled early, losing three of their first four.
“They do a good job at Fairland,” Martin said. “They have a better team than last year. It will be a good ballgame.”