If Keith Wood could teach experience to his Hico football players, he would.
But experience is earned, not learned, and it's something the Tigers have very little of entering the 2011 season.
"We only have one starter back on the offensive line and we really only have one skill player back who's starting at the same position as last year," said Wood, Hico's head coach.
The defense is only slightly more experienced, with three regulars back.
On the flip side, however, Wood says the Tigers will have more depth than a season ago.
"We'll carry 26 players, and we only had 18 last year, so we'll have a lot more depth," said Wood. "That will definitely help us."
Like everyone else, Wood's team is dealing with extreme heat in the opening week of two-a-days. He says a combination of the heat and youthfulness seemed to slow his team during Monday's practices.
"We were kind of dragging," he said. "Some of that might have been the heat, but I think a lot of it has to do with having a big freshman class and those guys looking around like they were lost a little bit."
He said the energy was much better during Tuesday's action.
"The second day was a lot better, we had some guys getting after it," he said. "I liked our tempo and our energy."
Hico has 50 players out for football, a number pleasing to Wood with only 183 students enrolled in grades 9-12.
"I'm glad to see with the heat and everything else that we have as many as we always have, or at least close," he said. "Fifty is a good number for us, it's more than half the boys in the high school."
The Tigers are using more spread formations this season, something Wood said is geared toward taking advantage of its speed in the open field.
"We are going to spread it out a little," he said. "I think the spread allows us to try and get some of our smaller, quicker guys the ball in space where they can do the most good."
The Tigers are not abandoning the wing-T rushing philosophy that has powered them for years, they are simply adjusting it to fit into a different offensive scheme.
"We're still using the jet sweep and a lot of things like it that we've done for years," he said. "Alex Sikes is moving from to quarterback, and he's a good runner, so we'll take advantage of that."
Sikes is moving into the gun after standing out as a running back as a sophomore and junior. The senior will also be key in the secondary.
Wood said the momentum of reaching the 2A Division II playoffs last fall could be seen throughout the offseason.
"Getting to the playoffs was big for last year's group, but it was also big for this year and in the future," he explained. "We had a JV group last year that didn't win many games in junior high, but then they went 7-3 (in JV) and got to travel with the varsity to the playoffs. It was big for those boys to be a part of that."
Many of those players, Wood said, are being counted on to fill major voids for this season's varsity clubs.
"Those guys got a taste of success and what it takes to earn it, now it's their turn to go out and do it," he said.
The Tigers open their season Aug. 25 against Dublin, a game that will be played at Tarleton Memorial Stadium in Stephenville.