08/17/2014 7:58 AM

08/17/2014 7:59 AM

How they stack up

Outlook: Chester coach Anthony Sterling said the only thing his assistants have been doing differently this offseason after last year’s surprising 3-7 campaign, is working on mental focus techniques. The Cyclones have the athletes, so honing their nonphysical characteristics may prove crucial in a tough region, made tougher by the addition of South Pointe and Lancaster.

Quarterback Tommy Sanders, a four-year starter, is one who will benefit from the extra attention paid to mental preparation. Sanders had a drop-off in efficiency last fall, completing less than 40 percent of his passes. Sterling said he’s expecting Sanders to be the general of the team, and his improved play will be key for the Cyclones to have a shot to return to the postseason.

It’s not all on the offense’s shoulders, though. The 2013 Cyclones defense allowed nearly 30 points per game and will need to be better. A number of two-way players will be charged with shoring up that side of the ball, led by defensive backs Earl Hinton and Keith Feaster, and linebackers David Days and Temaris Dixon, who finished runner-up in the state wrestling championship last season in the 220-pound weight class.

Departed: ATH Quan Caldwell, LB Daryl Foster, OL Dakeavis Wilmore, DB C.J. Chisholm, ATH Devin Rambert, ATH Jarrett Rambert, RB Lorenzo White, OL Denzell Marshall

Key players: QB Tommy Sanders, TE/LB Temaris Dixon, WR/CB Earl Hinton, OL T.J. Graham, WR/S Keith Feaster, OL/LB David Days, OL Stanley Yarborough

Sterling said: Missing the playoffs last season was a shock to the system for the Cyclones.

“Coming off the 3-7 season last year, I don’t know what happened, I don’t know if they met over the Christmas holidays or what, but when we got back in January hitting those weights there was a different mindset with those guys, and we’ve seen it consistently since January up until this point.”

Did you know? Last season was Chester’s first losing campaign since 2004 when Victor Floyd’s first team went 2-9. The Cyclones went 6-5 the next season and were playing in the state championship game within three years (2007). Sterling would love a rebound like that for his program this season.

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