By Gerry Steele
NORTH POWDER - Powder Valley football coach Dan Townsend welcomed all eight of last year's starters back to the team's opening practice last month.
"We return the starting eight that we fiished with last season," Townsend, who has been the Badgers' coach since 2009, said.
The Powder coach said the Badgers (2-7 overall and 0-5 in the Old Oregon League last season) finished with just 10 players due to injuries and other factors.
This season those 10, plus seven freshmen, dot the Powder Valley lineup.
The return players are seniors Colton Eubanks, Shae Wendt and Josh Valentine, juniors Quinn Stephens, Chace Dixon, Brock Jones, Tyler Robinson and Heath Browne, and sophomores Eddie Bedolla and Tyler Sieckman.
"It's nice," Townsend said.
"We've got some experience, but in a sense we're still a little inexperienced because of our youth.
"This is a talented group. Hopefully, we'll take advantage of their abilities. A lot of these kids took part in summer camps, and that's a huge benefit for us."
Dixon returns as a three-year starter at quarterback.
Eubanks, rebounding from a season-ending leg injury, and Stephens anchor the running attack.
Wendt, Browne, Bedolla and Sieckman are mainstays on both the offensive and defensive lines.
Robinson and Jones, both 6-foot-3 or taller, offer big targets for Dixon's passes.
Robinson led the Old Oregon League in receiving yards and receiving touchdowns last season.
Townsend said the Old Oregon League has no clear-cut favorite.
"It's going to be a real dog fight again," he said.