FAIRMOUNT — At this time last year, Brady Turner was a handful of days into his stint as Madison-Grant football coach, and none of his offensive or defensive system was in place.
The Argylls (0-10 in 2017) recovered from a three-game opening stretch in which they were outscored 137-7 to stun Alexandria. Then they closed out the regular season with two wins and finished a respectable 3-7.
"This time this year, we have 90 percent of the offense in and 100 percent of the defense in," said Turner, hastily promoted during the first week of practice last August. "So it is night and day difference from where we were at this time last year to where we are now."
And there is a strong turnout (38 players) and with that plenty of experience to hopefully catapult the Argylls to their first winning season since 2011.
"It was a short summer," Turner said. "They dedicated themselves to it, and we couldn't be more excited to get started here."
Junior Jackson Thompson, who filled in several times for the now-departed Dillon Brooks, will be the starting quarterback. Thompson also lined up at running back the last two seasons.
The main ball carrier in the Wing-T offense figures to be senior Randall Fultz (474 yards last year).
Depth in the backfield will come from senior Jonah Johnson, junior Clayton Powell and sophomore Seth Lugar.
M-G's veteran offensive line includes senior center Connor Murphy (240 pounds), senior tackles Ethan Hawkins (280) and Gage Davis (250) and junior guards Jaren Glass (175) and Jeron Mason (175).
Hawkins, Glass, Davis and Murphy will also line up on the defensive front, with Lugar, Mason, Powell and sophomore Trey Vetor among the linebackers.
Johnson and fellow senior Damon Hasty anchor the defensive secondary.
"Our senior class has really dedicated themselves to this," Turner said. "They've taken ownership of it and have made it their season so far. They've made sure people are showing up (for workouts), and during practices they're leading the way. It is a total different culture this year."
Being the smallest school in the Central Indiana Conference, M-G again may take its licks in the regular season, against powerful Eastbrook and Mississinewa as well as non-conference foes Tipton (Aug. 23 away in the season opener) and Eastern (home Aug. 30).
The Argylls, though, may benefit from the latest IHSAA tournament realignment after being moved down from Class 2A to 1A (all of their regular-season foes are either 2A or 3A). M-G has seven straight first-round sectional defeats.
"Playing tough competition through the year should help us get ready for the sectional," Turner said. "We want to get better each and every week, so when it comes sectional time, we're reaching our peak then."