St. Vincent has 10 postseason appearances since 1984, including eight in the last 13 seasons. So, after not making the playoffs last fall in a 7-3 campaign, the Indians are due to return.
They won the Class 1 state championship in 2004 in their fourth final four appearance since 1998.
St. Vincent, at its best, runs the ball effectively and mixes in the pass after setting up with the run.
While the Indians will be replacing two of their top three running backs from last year, they still will do a lot of smashing into a lot of opponents' grills.
After playing tackle last year, 240-pound senior Chris Fischer moves to fullback, taking the role as lead back that Waylon Richardet (793 yards, 16 touchdowns) played last year.
Also in the backfield is senior Lucas Robinson, who was the second-leading rusher last season with 405 yards on 78 carries, a 5.2-yards-per-carry average.
In addition, senior quarterback Tim Guilliams rushed for 369 yards on 81 carries, a 4.6 average per attempt.
Another staple of St. Vincent football is defense. The Indians pitched three shutouts last year and held five other foes below 20 points per game. They allowed 15.9 points per game on the season.
Among the returning players are senior defensive end David Rhoden (three sacks), defensive tackle Fischer (50 tackles, three sacks), junior nose guard Zach Fischer (36 tackles, one sack), senior linebacker Greg Finger (88 tackles, three fumble recoveries), cornerback Robinson (44 tackles) and safety Guilliams.
Guilliams entered the 2005 season with little experience, having thrown just four passes in 2004 before replacing Alex Armbruster.
He ended the year with 875 yards passing with seven touchdowns and five interceptions. He was the only quarterback in the area to have more touchdown passes than interceptions.
While St. Vincent will work in some new receivers this season, Guilliams' year of experience should be a big plus.
"He understands what we want out of the offense, and he makes good reads," St. Vincent coach Keith Winkler said.
The new district assignments that the Missouri State High School Activities Association drew up in the spring split Mississippi Area Football Conference Blue Division rivals St. Vincent and Ste. Genevieve Valle Catholic.
In a way, that's good news since Valle returns Nathan Grass and two other key players who helped sink St. Vincent in last year's 26-0 decision.
But if St. Vincent gets through the district with Chaffee (0-10 last year), Hayti (6-3) and newcomer Portageville (3-7), the district champ may get its shot in the sectional against Valle, who is on St. Vincent's conference schedule in Week 7.
The Indians graduated their top five receivers from last year, leaving two returning players with a combined five catches for 94 yards.
One of those returning players is running back Robinson.
The other is Finger, a 160-pound senior who was a backup quarterback last year. Penciled in at tight end, he caught four passes last year for 80 yards and a touchdown.
Guilliams will have some new targets in senior tight end Greg Rellergert, sophomores Justin L'Hote and Darin Yamnitz and junior receiver Josh Rollet.
Speaking of players to replace, Richardet left St. Vincent for Division I-AA Missouri State as one of the program's top products. He was the 2004 Southeast Missourian Player of the Year during the state championship season and last year led the team in rushing, was among the top receivers (13 catches for 231 yards) and made 81 tackles with six sacks.
He also was the Indians' punter with a 37.2 yard average per boot.
To sum up, he was plenty good all over the field.
Helping Richardet plow along last year were Chris Fischer, now in the backfield; Ben Buchheit, who has graduated; and Zach Fischer, who is back for his junior season at center.
Kenton Hoernig, who also started last year as a sophomore, will take a tackle spot.
Among those expected to join the offensive line are Rhoden, who has experience in the defensive trenches; sophomore Adam Buchheit, junior Garrett French and junior Quent Robinson.
As a Class 1 school, St. Vincent will ask many of those offensive players to take turns on the defense as well, providing few chances to rest.
We mentioned Richardet is gone, right? He did all the punting last year, while Jonathon Buehler did most of the kicking, and Eric Clements and Seth Amschler handled a lot of the returns. They all have departed.
But, St. Vincent's modus operandi in recent years has been kicking off or trying extra points more than punting, so special teams isn't a huge worry.
Robinson actually kicked two field goals and hit six PATs. He also kicked off 23 times with a 52.3-yard average.
Robinson also made nine kick returns with a 20.8 yard average.