Jon Carpenter said the biggest change within the Capital High School football program from 2012 might be a matter of smell.
"A guy asked me what the smell in the locker room was and I said it was sweat," Carpenter said Monday. "Now we have guys who are old enough to stink.
"Last year it smelled like gummy bears in there."
The Cougars (7-4 in 2012) return 21 of 22 starters in 2013 from a team that finished eighth in the final Class AAA playoff rankings a year ago. That team appeared out of sort and out of place in losing a first-round playoff game at home to Musselman, but many of Capital's starters were making their playoff debuts as freshmen and sophomores.
Carpenter said quarterback Tyrhee Pratt will enter his sophomore season as a bigger, faster and stronger version of the player who won the Kanawha Valley Rookie of the Year award in 2012.
"He's throwing the ball with more velocity than he was last year. That's the first thing we noticed right out of the box, is there's been a lot of improvement there," Carpenter said.
Pratt, at approximately 6-foot-3 and 180 pounds, threw for 1,451 yards and 17 touchdowns as a freshman while completing 93-of-181 passes. He was intercepted six times.
A host of skill-position players return to the fold as well. Senior James Richmond ran for 1,004 yards and 12 touchdowns last year while junior Kashuan Haley ran for 777 yards and six scores. Haley, a second team All-State selection as a defensive utility player, missed the playoff loss against Musselman with an injured leg.
Pratt's older brother, senior Cliff Pratt, will also return to his starting spot while key defenders such as junior defensive back Jordan Kinney, linebackers Jonathan Pittman and Logan Priddy - a senior and a sophomore respectively - are back as well.
In fact, of the 59 players on the Capital roster at the end of 2012, 42 of them were either freshmen or sophomores. The only senior who started last year was All-State defensive back Davon Tyson, meaning the Cougars should return their offensive line in its entirety too.
"It's year four," Carpenter said, referring to the number of seasons at the helm of the Capital program.