The seniors on the Bloom-Carroll High School football team finally have a little consistency.

The seniors on the Bloom-Carroll High School football team finally have a little consistency.

For the first time in four years, the Bulldogs enter the season with the same coach as the previous year.

"The fact that they're just familiar with the system and what to expect on and off the field is immeasurable," said Kurt Forrest, who begins his second year when his team travels Friday to Liberty Union.

"Now it feels like they have a little bit of a head start because it's the first year they didn't have to come into the season learning a new offense and a new defense."

With the constant turnover in coaches, Bloom-Carroll has struggled, finishing 3-7 overall and 1-6 in the MSL-Buckeye Division last season. The Bulldogs hope to reverse that losing trend.

"This is definitely one of the most motivated football teams I've ever been on," junior running back Doc Kilby said. "Not just in high school, but my entire life."

Kilby has played varsity since his freshmen year, and the coaches expect him to have a strong season.

He added about 20 pounds with offseason weight training and also improved his speed by running track.

"I feel like I have a little more weight to push around," he said. "It feels good being big for once."

Another returning starter is senior quarterback Aaron McGraw. The Bulldogs alternate between an I-formation and some spread looks, and the coaches like McGraw's ability to execute both offenses.

"He's a very, very smart young man, on and off the field," Forrest said. "He does a good job of leading us and making sure we're where we're supposed to be. I'm expecting big, big things from him this year."

Senior Alex Pettibone and junior Conner Canini return to anchor the offensive line, which will clear the way for Kilby and McGraw.

Six starters return on a defense that will rely on its quickness.

"Our speed and athleticism are our biggest strengths," said Forrest, whose team has a small roster in both size and numbers. "We're not the biggest group, but we run very well and I think we can get 11 heads to the football and do some damage that way."

Kilby and senior Tyler Kraft will play defensive ends.

"Those are two kids we're really expecting big things there out on the edge," Forrest said.

The Bulldogs also return senior J.J. Shaffer at linebacker.

Bloom-Carroll opens with the same non-conference schedule as last year, and the Bulldogs started 2-1 a year ago before hitting the league schedule.

After Friday's game at Liberty Union, the Bulldogs play host to Vinton County (Sept. 4) and Athens (Sept. 11), and they hope a strong start could carry over into the conference schedule.

"We're tired of losing. The community, the coaches, the players, everybody is tired of losing around here," Kilby said.

"We're working hard to put us back on the map and get some respect for the program."