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Cardinals have new coach, big goals
MARBLE HILL, Mo. -- Woodland will be led by a new coach who, last season aside, sees hope in his young Cardinals.
"We are going to have to surprise some people," said first-year coach Ted Hahn. "Certainly no one will look at us and say that we are one of the best teams in the area.
"I'm pleased with the foundation here. I don't care about last year -- it's a new year and everybody has a chance to prove to me that they can play."
The Cardinals return a core of players from last year's 10-14 squad. Woodland likely will be led by a duo of seniors in 6-foot-3 Luke Johnson and 6-foot Alex VanGennip.
Travis Benfield is also in the plans to carry some of the weight this season. Benfield is a 6-2 junior who will likely do much of his scoring inside the paint.
"Those three are pretty talented players and I like the way they play the game, but everybody is really working hard," Hahn said.
The Cardinals look to run a set offense with VanGennip at the reins and 5-9 Eric Rives at his side. Rives didn't play much last year after he went down with a knee injury during the Woodland Tournament. That injury ended his season, but Hahn expects him to contribute this season.
Woodland plans to utilize the leadership of those four players in a slower offense with many set pieces.
"We will be doing a lot of screening and run out of the set more than other teams will," Hahn said.
A pair sophomores -- Brandon Cowell and Anthony Grojean -- could also battle for varsity playing time. Cowell is a point guard while Grojean is noted for his scrappy defense.
"I look for the whole team to be scrappy," said Hahn. "We will play hard."
The Cardinals lack size but Hahn said he hopes they make up for the disadvantage by their hard work and relentlessness.
Other players likely to contribute this year are 6-2 Chris Huffman and Cody McGraw, a versatile 6-2 sophomore who's a threat off the bench.
Junior Scotty Crader, senior Andrew Knight and senior Chad Hulvey also are competing for starting jobs.
The Cardinals received a unkind bump to Class 3 this year, but Hahs said he hopes to conquer the task exploiting the strengths of the team.
"There are a lot of good teams in Class 3," said Hahn. "But we have a chance to be a good team this year. We can compete."
Hahn said the team's goal is "to win all the games we are supposed to win and win some games that we aren't supposed to win."