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By TERRY GREENE
Mahomet Citizen sports writer
Picked by coaches to finish fifth in the pre-season 2011 Corn Belt Conference poll, the Mahomet-Seymour Bulldogs put together one of the better seasons in recent history with an 8-2 final mark, a share of the league crown, and qualifying for the IHSA play-offs. One year later, head varsity coach Keith Pogue is faced with the task of replacing 19 of 22 starters and competing in one of the stronger high school football conferences in Illinois.
After a summer of off-season conditioning, 7-on-7 competition, and various camps, Pogue and assistant coaches welcomed approximately 80 players, including 18 seniors, on August 8 to the opening day of Fall practice. The early practice sessions will focus on refining the offense, implementing different defensive schemes, agility drills, blocking and tackling fundamentals, and conditioning. Mindful of the extreme heat that has blanketed much of the area the past few weeks, regular water breaks and players’ moving in and out of the various drills is a constant process.
With the always rugged Corn Belt schedule waiting for the young Bulldogs, as well as daunting non-conference games against perennially strong Mt. Zion and Effingham, Pogue understands the difficult road ahead but believes Mahomet-Seymour will rise to the challenge.
“Our schedule is not conducive to a slow learning curve,” Pogue said. “We begin the season against two state-ranked teams in Mount Zion and Prairie Central. The league is once again very top-heavy. Prairie Central and Normal University will be favored early to win the league. The other contenders besides us will be BCC and Pontiac. I would not be surprised if we are ranked 5th in the coaches' poll at the start of the season. We were picked fifth last season and won a share of the conference title, so it's not a new situation for us.”
Read more in the Mahomet Citizen