Knowing your personnel can be half the battle.
So consider the past few months of preseason preparation another victory for third-year Tuscola coach Tommy Pursley, who has 243 career wins.
No team in the Western North Carolina Athletic Conference has more returning starters than the Mountaineers (17).
Caleb Ferguson (1,196 yards, 19 touchdowns in 2015) has rushed for more than 1,000 yards as both a sophomore and junior. Roman Jenkins (715 yards, eight touchdowns) and Brent Turner (463 yards, three touchdowns) are other threats out of the Mountaineers’ Double Wing offense.
The defense will be shored up with the experienced tackling of Taylor Austin (109 stops last year), Joe Napert (89), Grayson Perkins (77) and Tregg Rice (76).
“It’s fun to coach these guys who now understand our expectations, calls and plays,” Pursley said.
“When you’ve got guys going into their third year, it’s easier to make progress. We’ve got a lot of guys who have been through the battles and that makes your preparation easier.”
The Mountaineers hammered Patton, 44-6, last year and host the same Burke County team in Friday’s season opener at Weatherby Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. in Waynesville.
“We’ve watched (Patton) on film and they look to me like they are much improved,” Pursley said.
“They have an offense that is going to be hard to stop.”
Pursley has only endured one losing season in his career since 1993 — Tuscola went 5-7 in 2014.