The calendar changes. Expectations don't. The experienced Palmyra football team intends to contend for a conference championship.
The Palmyra football team posted 48 total wins over the past five seasons combined under coach Kevin Miles.
The calendar changes, but the Panthers' expectations don't.
“We've been blessed,” Miles said. “We've had a lot of really good football players who have come and gone. We've had the mentality for a while now of, 'Who's next?'
“We've got some big shoes to fill, but we've been laying that groundwork since last season ended.”
Palmyra, which is scheduled to host Brookfield on Aug. 24 in the season opener, returns eight starters on offense and seven on defense after finishing 9-3 a year ago.
Jackson Powell and an experienced offensive line will set the tone. Michael Frankenbach, Jackson Lundberg, Weston King and Kole Dietrich are all expected to join Powell in the trenches.
“We're pretty excited about those guys,” Miles said. “That's a really good group that returns. We came into camp this summer and it was like they already knew what they were doing. It was awesome.”
The men up front will pave the way for a one-two punch of running backs featuring Jarom Alexander and Brady Barnett.
Elusive in the open field, Alexander is a threat out of the backfield and as a wide receiver. He rushed for 1,003 yards and 11 scores last year.
Barnett, the brawnier of the two, offers a secondary option for the Panthers' run game.
“Brady (Barnett) was one of our best offensive linemen, but we've actually moved him to running back,” Miles said. “He will be the bruiser in the middle to get some tough yards.”
Jacob Kroeger remains Palmyra's starting quarterback, with Corder Lehenbauer his backup. Kroeger, a dual threat scrambler, engineers an offense that includes receivers Kaden Malone and Grady Crowe as well as a stable of talented tight ends.
Parker LaFoe, Abe Haerr, Nick Lickfield are all expected to be part of Palmyra's offense from the tight end position.
“We're really overloaded with some quality tight ends right now, which is a nice problem to have,” Miles said.
Powell, King and Frankenbach will play significant snaps on the line for Palmyra's 3-4 defense.
Powell was an all-state offensive lineman last season and also stood out defensively, making 41 tackles and 11 for loss.
Kroeger and Lehenbauer are likely to start as safeties. Malone, Crowe and Ross Arch are the team's top cornerbacks.
Mason Scholl and Alexander are projected starters as outside linebackers, while Barnett, Tucker Aeschliman and Dakota Compton all figure to get time as inside linebackers.
The Palmyra defense allowed just 10 points per game last year.
The Panthers' path to the Clarence Cannon Conference championship may well require beating Monroe City, which went undefeated on its run to the Class 1 state title last year.
Palmyra is motivated after coming one win short of a district title last season.
Miles and Co. don't shy away from their ultimate mission.
“The state championship is always the bigger picture but you've got to do a lot of little things right to get there,” Miles said.