For just the second time in the co-op's history, the Annawan-Wethersfield Titans football program made it to the IHSA Class 2A quarterfinals last fall. Although the Titans' season ended at the hands of Clifton Central in those quarterfinals, the Titans finished 10-2.
The Titans graduated 14 seniors from that club, but left an imprint that those in the program hope to follow -- if not exceed -- this season with a younger group. That quest beginsFriday night when the they are at ROWVA.
"We tell our kids don't let last year be your best year and to always strive to be better," Titans' coach Brandon Johnston said. "That's easier said than done sometimes. It's a tough league that we compete in, but the expectations are still high this year."
A-W returns just five starters from last year -- seniorsBen Foster, Jordan Morey, Andrew Draminski, Tanner Bowen and The Dispatch/The Rock Island Argus All-Area first team tailback Micam Smith. They are part of a group of 14 seniors, seven juniors and 18 sophomores in the program.
"The success we've had in the past has helped, but at the same time these guys want to leave their own mark," Johnston said. "We're certainly proud of what we have done in the past, but we haven't won a conference championship in five years. We won it in '09, but it wasn't the Lincoln Trail Conference, it was the West Prairie Trail.
"We still have goals that haven't been accomplished yet. This group is really doing their part in trying to get back to a conference championship, and for most teams, I think that's always a No. 1 goal."
Lincoln Trail Conference title hopes are bright, but Johnston knows the competition is stiff in the conference with defending Class 2A state champ Mercer County and Stark County also among the top three teams in the LTC.
"I think just based off tradition and success last year," he said. "We were the three teams that went the furthest in the playoffs. Out of the three of us, we have a state champion, a semifinalist (Stark County) and a quarterfinalist.
"Mercer County has kind of earned that 'favorite' title until someone knocks them off. It should be very competitive between the three of us for that conference championship again this year."
Head Coach: Brandon Johnston
Assistant coaches: Logan Willits, Mike Epperly, Chris Dooley, Joe Schmitt, Monte Smith, Eli Eastman.
2012: 10-2, 8-1 Lincoln Trail Conference
Returning starters: Srs.: Ben Foster (OL/DL), Jordan Morey (OL/LB), Andrew Draminski (FB/DL), Micam Smith (RB/LB) Tanner Bowen (WR/S)
Schedule: (All games at 7 p.m.) Friday at ROWVA; Sept. 6 at Ridgewood; Sept. 13 vs. Stark County; Sept. 20 at West Central; Sept. 27 vs. West Prairie; Oct. 4 at Monmouth (United); Oct. 11 vs. Midland; Oct. 18 at Princeville; Oct. 25 vs. Mercer County.