Calabasas Coach Larry Edwards wasn't speaking much in terms of X's and O's about this time last year.
Like any football coach, Edwards had his share of worries and injuries, but he was less concerned with those aspects than he was the Coyotes' ability to learn how to win.
It wasn't that Edwards wanted to bury the past, necessarily, although Calabasas never had won a Frontier League title. Rather, Edwards hoped his players could learn from the past and, in turn, teach themselves to win.
His confidence hardly soared when Calabasas stood at 1-3-1 after five weeks of the 1986 season.
Then, something strange happened, a transformation of sorts.
The Coyotes won three games in a row and four of their last five to win league. They advanced to the third round of the Desert Mountain Conference playoffs before losing, 38-6, to Atascadero. No previous Calabasas team had gone that far.
To listen to Edwards, entering his eighth season as coach, the talent always has been at Calabasas. It was just a matter of molding it, pushing it, prodding it.
And now, one year later and with an 8-4-1 record to show for it, Edwards is learning to deal with a different kind of past--as defending league champion.
"Obviously, it's a situation you want to have," Edwards said. "We want to build on last year's accomplishments. This is a unique situation for Calabasas."
Unique for now, but if Edwards has his way, it won't be for long. And the members of last season's conference semifinalist--players like wide receiver-turned-quarterback Ceo Wimmer, linemen Scott Kirkpatrick and Mike Schaefer, linebacker Ed LeBlanc and fullback Scott Pensis--seem to have caught on.
"These players are coming back with a great deal of confidence," Edwards said. "And the confidence is definitely contagious. Our seniors are stepping in and doing a good job of inspiring confidence in our younger players."
Those younger players are projected to make up a large majority of the team. As many as 14 juniors could start, including the entire defensive secondary.
Calabasas will, however, field an offensive line that average 215 pounds. That kind of size tends to hide some of the inexperience.
"We have talent," Edwards said, "but we're young talent. Last year may be a tough act to follow."
Agoura Coach Frank Greminger would like to think so.
The Chargers, like many of the Frontier League teams, have good size on the offensive and defensive lines. Said Edwards: "I think this is the year the ground will sag in our league."
Agoura's line includes 230-pound Jon Tattersall and 200-pound Dave Breuninger. They'll be instructed to protect quarterback Scott Heflin, with whom the Chargers' fortunes rest.
"I'm hoping we get a good season out of our quarterback," Greminger said. "Scott's one of the better quarterbacks I've had. He's a definite leader on the field."