The last time the Briggs High School football team put together a winning season was 2005.

The last time the Briggs High School football team put together a winning season was 2005.

But even with a new coach and just six returning starters, the Bruins remain optimistic they can help the program turn the corner this season.

"We're really working as a team and I don't know that we've done that in past years," said senior defensive lineman Brandon Germany, whose team opens Friday at Whetstone. "We've been working harder. I really think we believe we can beat every team we play. You have to have that kind of mentality."

Last season Briggs opened with five consecutive losses before winning four of the last five to finish 4-6 overall and 4-3 in the City League-South Division to tie Walnut Ridge for fourth behind co-champions Marion-Franklin and Eastmoor (6-1) and Independence (5-2).

It was the Bruins' best finish under Joe Coplan in his three seasons as coach before resigning.

The new staff is led by Derek Katris, an assistant at Grove City last season. He enters with a mentality that the Bruins are going to have to win with defense.

Katris, a Columbus native, played football at Ashland and the California University of Pennsylvania, where he was an ESPN Academic All-American his senior year.

He teaches social studies at the district's Academic Acceleration Academy.

"We're trying to put all our best players on defense and hope to get some breaks on offense," Katris said. "We're just going to try to hold people to as few points as we can and get the special teams together. I know special teams is something they struggled with last year."

Germany (6-foot-1, 240 pounds) didn't play last season when his father died, but coaches are looking for him to lead a defense that lost a number of starters to graduation. Among those were three-year starters Matt Rupe (LB), Desmond Page (DB) and Jamez Russell-Mays (DB).

Two of the Bruins' better athletes, senior Anthony Watson (5-10, 195) and junior Bronde Scales (6-3, 215), will play linebacker.

Katris describes his offense as a spread running team.

There are five returning starters on offense. Watson, who started at quarterback last year, will move to running back. He will be joined by junior Alante Ponder and sophomore Antwan Smith.

Two seniors, James Klausman (6-3, 265) and Eric Broersma (6-1, 230), will bring experience up front with junior Adam Davey, a returning starter.

Senior receiver Josh Collier also started last season.

At quarterback, sophomore Isaiah Campbell is competing with Franklin Heights transfer junior Mike Taylor.

"Basically, we've been giving them all the reps in scrimmages," Katris said. "We're just going to let them battle it out and see who plays better. We're excited about both of them. We're just waiting to see who can put it on the field. We want to see who's the gamer."

With the failure of the South-Western City Schools' levy, Briggs looks to bring in as many as 10 transfers from Franklin Heights and Westland, and Katris is counting on them to contribute.

"Those guys came in ready to be a team and you can't ask for more than that," Germany said.