To say that Cannon County shocked the mid-state football world during the 2009 regular season would not be an overstatement.
Picked to finish last in District 8-AA in preseason polls, the Lions instead captured their first district championship in three decades and earned their first playoff appearance since 1995.
Cannon County’s surprising success was a gigantic step in the right direction for Lion head coach Joel Schrenk, who took the job this year with the intent of building a program that is a serious contender for the playoffs every season.
One thing Schrenk has learned during his short time at the helm is that Cannon County High School sports enjoys tremendous support from the community.
Reflecting back on his first season, Schrenk said, “I think the thing that stands out the most to me is the way that the team came together and then when we started winning the town came together. In my 15 years of coaching I have never seen anything like it. It was an awesome beginning to my tenure here.”
Now the attention turns to building on this year’s success so that it continues into next season and years beyond.
Schrenk said there will be three things he and his staff want to get done during the offseason.
1. “Get more players out. We have to get the athletes out for football that have not been playing in the past. That process is already underway and will on going.”
2. “We must get bigger, faster, and stronger. Bigger, faster, stronger players will stay healthier and play harder, longer and in the end, they will win more games.”
3. “We must continue to work on building the program. This will include upgrading facilites, equipment, etc. The other side of that will be fundraising to help pay for the upgrades.”
Schrenk was not hired until late Spring of this year, which means there were many things he was unable to accomplish during the last offseason.
“The players were lifting and working hard but it is different when the head coach is in the weight room,” he said.
“Our numbers were down because of the uncertainty of the coaching change and when I got here in the summer it was almost too late for new kids to come out. And there is always the wait and see attitude about a new coach. We had no time for upgrades we just had to roll with what was here.”
The numbers are still low. Were the Lions to scrimmage each other today, they would barely have enough players. Cannon County is losing 12 seniors from this year’s team, with 22 returning for next season.
“I feel that we will have about 20 to 25 new players play football that didn’t play this year.” Schrenk said.
“I am hoping for 12 to 15 incoming freshman to come out next year. So hopefully we will be able to dress 50 to 55 players when we play Spring Hill (in the season opener) next fall.”
Lion coaches will put players through a serious of drills and conditioning program during the offseason?
“Again, our focus is to get bigger, faster, stronger. We have five different phases that we go through in our off season program. We will work extremely hard in the weight room and also work on our quickness and speed.”