The season started out a little rough for Crete, the Cardinals losing four of their first five. Of course, those four losses came to teams which came into the season ranked in the top five in Class B. And all of them would eventually finish the season ranked up there as well.
So, for a young team in Crete, this was a murderer's row of sorts.
But Crete found its legs, so to speak, the team finding an identity on offense as junior Brock Sherman turned out to be that all-purpose type player, getting anywhere from 30 to 40 touches per game.
For his fellow junior teammate, offensive lineman Ryne Reeves, it was about this time the team starting coming around. "Yeah, we just found our identity, I guess you could say. I know Brock was getting around 200 or so yards per game during that run.
That run lasted five games and put them all the way into the quarterfinals of the playoffs before they would lose their second game of the season to Omaha Skutt, which finished second in the state to Aurora.
During that streak Ryne had some additional good news as he found out in October that he was invited along with around 500 kids from around the country, to attend the Junior All-American Combine in San Antonio.
It didn't take long for Ryne to decide on going, because it was a chance for him to do what he always wants to do. "It's just about facing the best," Ryne said. "There were some big guys like a lineman from Louisiana and another big one from Ohio. Then there was James Wilder, that linebacker/defensive end from Florida.
Already rated as one of the best defensive ends in the country for the class of 2011, Wilder, who comes in at around 6-2 and 220 pounds, is more a linebacker than he is someone who will be looked at to be constantly on the line.
During the one-on-ones, which Ryne said weren't nearly as good as they would have been had they been allowed to wear pads, there's only so much Reeves, who comes in at around 80 pounds bigger than Wilder, could do to keep him from getting that edge. "Oh yeah, he beat me. But it's hard when you aren't going in pads, and he's a lot smaller than I was. But I liked going against him, because it gives you a window into what it's going to be like at the next level," he said.
One particular thing Reeves said he was happy with were the times he posted in testing. That's usually not something most kids like, especially down at the Alamo Bowl, where some equate running on that surface to running on a thick sponge. But with a reported shuttle time of 4.9 and a 40 time which Reeves believes was a 5.0 or lower, that's a nice start to the calendar year.
It's going to be a year Reeves is looking forward too, because his football team, which was laden with young talent, now finally looks at this season, knowing they will have no less than nine starters coming back on each side of the ball. "And there were guys who got lots of time besides them. So, we have a really good team coming back," Reeves added.
Crete was the only team which finished the season with five losses and still managed to find itself ranked in the top 10. Point of fact, they finished ranked sixth in all of Class B. Reeves sees the work ahead and knows there's no letting up now. But he's definitely excited about the future. "We have to keep working hard, but I think everyone is excited about the year coming up. We have experience and a lot of good players," he said. "It's just about making yourself better and doing the work. If you do that, good things can happen."