About 25 miles south of Sedalia sits a football stadium home to a team missing an identity. Numbers have been fluctuating for the Lincoln Cardinals since the program kicked off in 2009.
The team has played a mixed bag of 8-man and 11-man varsity football for five years. But the Cardinals, who have had barely enough players to field all 11 positions in the past, find themselves with nearly three dozen players set to dress for the 2014 season.
“We knew we’d have a lot coming with our youth program and our junior high,” said coach Danny Morrison. “I think we’re ready. We’re excited about it.”
With enough players to field a full varsity roster, the Cardinals will play a complete 11-man schedule and compete in the Kaysinger Conference with Sacred Heart, Tipton, Cole Camp and Windsor.
“We set our goals high,” Morrison said. “We don’t want to lose a game. That was kind of our expectations, so we said we’re going to work for that.”
Lincoln barreled through last season’s schedule without a loss until the final week of the season.
“After our last game, the game we lost, I said, ‘This sucks, so I want you to remember this and carry this over to the first day of two-a-days,’” Morrison said.
He continued to recall what he said to his team. “Remember what this felt like and we’ve got to work hard so we don’t have to feel this anymore.”
Since then, the Cardinals have gathered on their artificial turf field to improve and prepare for this season.
“We put on two camps here, which was good,” Morrison said. “We had 30-plus kids at each camp and we got a lot out of it. We got a lot of implementation put in and a lot of good stuff that you don’t have to waste a lot of time on when you get to two-a-days. You can work on your fundamentals and drills and stuff because we already have a good set of plays in that the kids know.”
Morrison said the team also showed dedication with building up strength.
“We’ve got a lot of guys getting into the weight room during the summer and hitting it hard,” he said. “We’re hoping it just transitions right into the season.”
The Cardinals hope the numbers remain high so they can start building a winning tradition in varsity football, especially since the junior varsity will also play a full schedule this season.
“That’s something we haven’t had in the past, so that’s going to be great developing some of our younger guys,” Morrison said.