Entering his 10th season at the helm of a tradition-rich program, Huckabay's Dean Edwards has gained a true appreciation for the history of Huckabay Indians basketball.

He also takes great pride in defending that tradition, and doing his part to continue the Indians' winning ways for years to come.

Since 1941 Huckabay has won 20 or more games a remarkable 35 times. That includes 10 seasons of 30 or more wins and three years of 40 or more victories.

Huckabay is 194-98 in nine seasons under Edwards. That includes eight 20-win campaigns. Even in 2004 when the Indians didn't win 20 games, they still managed to claim a district championship.

Most importantly, the Indians have never missed the playoffs under Edwards. Huckabay has reached the post season 14 straight seasons, last missing the playoffs in 1996.

But Edwards knows advancing out of the new District 25-A (Division II) won't be easy.

"I think it's going to be a dog fight just to get into the playoffs this year," says Edwards, who has guided the Indians to three district titles. "Lingleville has come around and is going to be tough, and Kopperl is good. Kopperl is probably the team to beat going into it."

Edwards says its not just the local Class A schools that are raising the bar in basketball. He feels several area programs are on the rise.

"This is kind of a little hotbed of good teams right now," he said. "You have (Huckabay, Lipan and Lingleville) then you have the 2A teams like Dublin and Hico that are going to be good, and Coach (Mike) Dacus always does a good job in Stephenville. I think it's as strong as this area has been in a long time."

For Huckabay, that strength comes in terms of experience as four starters return from last year's 20-12 area finalist team.

Brady Dowell started every game for the Indians last year. Marty Yates and Mario Lopez did the same as freshmen. Zach Lowe also returns.

"Those guys really came a long way for us last year, and I'm ready for them to step up again," Edwards said.

The only starter gone is Jose Lopez.

"The fifth spot is still up in the air," said Edwards. "I think I know who's going to take the fifth spot when the time comes, but right now it's still a battle."

The time is coming soon as Lingleville battles area and state power Lipan in a Nov. 16 season opener.

"Playing Lipan is exactly what we need," Edwards said. "It will be a good test for us."

Edwards and the Indians also have pre-season scrimmages set against Graford and Slidell Nov. 11th in Graford, and against Blum, Waxahachie Advantage and Blooming Grove Nov. 13 in Blum.

"The scrimmages are going to be good for us," he said. "Over those couple days we'll have a pretty good idea where we stand and what adjustments we need to make."

If history is any indication, Edwards and Huckabay will adjust quite well.