Last season was the exception to the rule for Jack Johnson's storied coaching career.

Last season was the exception to the rule for Jack Johnson's storied coaching career.

Johnson went through a rare losing season as the Harvest Prep football team finished 2-8 overall and 2-5 in the MSL-Cardinal Division.

He's not worried about that happening again in 2010, however.

"I never go on last year's win-loss record," Johnson said. "I go on how many kids I've got coming back. That's probably the greatest barometer on how you're going to do the following year. We've got everybody back, so we should be pretty decent this year."

Leading the returnees is senior quarterback Brandon Ross, who is stronger than he was a year ago, according to Johnson.

He'll need that extra arm strength, because Johnson has installed a spread offense that will feature junior Jordan Gaines and sophomore Zack Yousey as the primary receivers.

Two more juniors will lead the running game, with fullback Terry Harper opening holes to spring tailback Taimere Fambro.

Harper (6-foot-2, 220 pounds), who is the strongest player on the team, bench-presses 365 and runs the 40-yard dash in 4.65 seconds.

That blend of size and speed has Johnson convinced that Harper will play Division I in college.

Fambro is the Warriors' fastest player with a 4.45 in the 40 and should be a dual threat coming out of the backfield.

The offensive line will be anchored by senior Darnell Darling, junior Dresan Mathis and sophomore Anthony Peoples, who all weigh between 230 and 250.

Defensively, the Warriors will feature Harper and Fambro linebacker. Harper led the team with 139 tackles as a sophomore.

Gaines and Yousey are the starting cornerbacks.

Although Johnson likes his starting units, he has concerns about the team's depth.

"Our starting 11 or 12 are good people. If we can stay healthy, we will stay competitive," Johnson said. "Once No. 2s get in right now it drops off pretty quickly. But they're young kids and they're learning."

Some young players who could make an impact include freshmen Ethan Brown and D.J. Myles. Brown is playing at defensive end, and Myles has lined up everywhere from nose guard to wide receiver.

Sophomore transfer Devon Monroe (6-5, 370) could also see some time, especially if he can work on his conditioning, according to Johnson.

Johnson hopes a 21-17 win over Grandview to close last season is the springboard to a bright future with a large number of players expected back in the next two years.

"That was huge. How we finished the season is huge," Johnson said. "We talk about how much we had grown up to that last game. That was the whole key to how successful this year is going to be. That gave us reasons to lift, reasons to get into the weight room. It gives us a platform on which we can build on. Had we lost that last game, it would have been a huge struggle."

West Jefferson (7-0) won the MSL-Cardinal Division a year ago, followed by Liberty Union (6-1), Licking Heights (5-2), Grandview (3-4). The Warriors tied Fisher Catholic (2-5), and Millersport (0-7) was last.

Licking Heights, West Jefferson and Liberty Union expect to be near the top of the league again.

"These down years, I'm not used to. I hate those," Johnson said. "The people who are around our kids are pretty experienced. There's no reason why our kids can't play."