HAMBLETON, W.Va – One way to describe the 2021 Tucker County football team would definitely have been young. With just three seniors on a small roster, the Mountain Lions wrapped the season with just two wins.

Regardless, there’s a positive attitude around the program going into the 2022 season thanks to a growing roster and some experienced underclassmen.

“It’s just the numbers of kids we got out. We got a bunch of young kids, freshmen-wise that came out and our numbers last year, at the peak we were probably around 18 to 20 guys and now we’re up around 37, 38 guys so just the numbers and the capability of being able to do things in practice with a full team and having two squads and being able to have a JV which we haven’t had the last three years,” head coach AJ Rapp said

As Rapp enters his 18th year leading the program at Tucker County, he’s excited by those growing numbers with some of the best athletes the school has to offer deciding to come out for football this season.

He hopes that can translate to more wins on the field this year now that the roster depth will allow some important players to avoid playing every snap of every game.

“We were in a lot of games last year but didn’t have a lot of guys. The 22 positions, offense and defense and even special teams for that matter, a lot of those guys never left the field and its a long night when you’re playing every single snap, everything and its high school football, I understand that be we were in several games until halftime, the third quarter and we just didn’t have the stamina to go a long with it because we couldn’t give our kids breaks. We just didn’t have enough kids,” he said.

The impression among the players is that the Mountain Lions are headed back in the right direction. The veterans on this team are certainly being looked at to lead but at the same time, they all saw the younger members of this squad step up in crucial moments last year.

“Honestly, I’d just like to see the young guys really build this program. Being a senior so it means a lot so seeing them build it and keep continuing that would be great,” senior wide reciever Trenton Wilfong said, “Coach Rapp’s got a good program going now, great coaches so it looks really good for the season.”

That bunch of returning underclassmen got quite a bit of experience a year ago and Rapp has confidence that they will be able to benefit from it.

When it comes down to it, there really is no education like real, on-field action and that’s exactly what they got.

“In football, that’s the big teacher’s experience. You can do all you want in practice but gametime’s where they all get their experience and we had a lot of guys last year, and the last two years really, get a lot of experience so we got some other kids that came out this year that didn’t play last year,” he said, “We got a few basketball kids that just played basketball. We got some athletic kids on the edges and stuff so we’re excited about it”

Tucker County opens the 2022 season with a home matchup against Pocahontas County on August 26.