The Morrison Mustangs have a new head coach, but it's one from within the program.
Ryan Oetting served as sophomore coach and defensive coordinator for the Mustangs, and took over for Cory Bielema when he left the program after the 2017 season. Bielema led the Mustangs to two state championships in his decade at Morrison.
The Mustangs went 4-5 last season, with the end of it bringing the departure of Bielema for employment reasons.
Enter Oetting. Oetting has his experience with the program, but also spent 13 years at Newman Central Catholic and two years at Sterling.
That's a lot of tradition of winning between the three prep schools.
His most recent job was working as the sophomore coach for the Mustangs, which helped him transition easily into the head job.
"Hopefully we can continue to build on what Coach Builema and the staff did last year," Oetting said. "We were 4-5 and hopefully we can get over that hump and get on the winning side of that record."
He says there aren't going to many changes in the style of coaching or in the style of play, especially since he took over the program later.
"It's not going to change a ton. I hope I'm a players coach," Oetting said. "At times I think I am and at other times I'm not so sure. We kind of took the program late so it will all be Morrison football you're used to."
Oetting is taking a program that lost quite a bit of athleticism to graduation, but then again it seems like a lot of the area has as well. He sees the holes, but doesn't think it's going to be an issue.
"We had a good group of seniors," Oetting said. "Reilly Dolan, our quarterback, Aaron Deter our leading rusher, Grant Abel lineman Grant Slater at runningback. They were big players and played a big role on our team, amongst other seniors. So, we don't return a lot of yardage. We do return some lineman who started last year. Jackson Dubois, Dylan Still, Riley Wilkens, Chase Garland. The coverage isn't totally empty but we have to refill it a little bit."
So a lack of yardage and a lack of size. That's what Oetting has to work with on offense, but he's not concerned. He sees one thing from his athletes on the field: speed.
"I think we have some team speed, so we will try to utilize that on the offensive side of the ball," Oetting said. "We might spread the ball out a little bit more. I'm not saying we're going to throw the ball all over the place but we might throw a little more and utilize our speed.
"The Three Rivers Conference is very physical and we expect to be physical as well."
If anyone would know if the group of current seniors has what it takes it would be Oetting. After all, he saw firsthand what they could do when he was working with the underclassman rather than the varsity.
"We had a nice successful junior class," Oetting said. "Their sophomore season they ended up 9-0. We played well so those juniors we fully expect to step up and take some of those offensive roles."
That's when he starts looking at Wilkens, Ryan Kennedy, Evan Wiebenga and Nicholas Allen. He wants to see them step up, but more importantly, he wants to see them gain experience.
He has quite a few sophomores on his roster, and his numbers aren't hurting in the program as a whole. It's all about getting them some minutes.
"I think experience right now," Oetting said. "We have a good group of seniors there's just not a ton of them. It's a small senior class and we lost quite a bit last year. I don't know if it's a weakness, it's just something we have to figure out and play through."