In its first year as a football co-op, Kimball-White Lake proved two is better than one. The Wildkats lost the 9AA championship to Bridgewater-Emery Ethan. But it was the first Dakota Dome appearance for either school in seven years. And there's a big reason to be optimistic for year two.
There are plenty of obstacles putting a football team together. But for Kimball-White Lake head coach Dale Taylor, merging two schools into one team was a different kind of step.
"It definitely took some adjustments," Taylor said. "It took adjustments for both the kids and our coaching staff to kind of understand what kids need to be playing where and I think it did take a little bit of time."
But the Wildkats gelled by the end of the 2011 season, not only as a team, but as a unit hungry for more.
"I think the kids understand how much it hurt to get runner-up," Taylor said.
"I've been itching for this moment ever since the Dome game was over," Kimball-White Lake senior Willie Norwood said. "I just wanted to get back on the field and kick some butt."
If Norwood wants to kick anything, other teams better watch out.
"He's a pretty good-sized boy for us," Taylor said.
The 6'4" lineman plays both sides of the ball and can provide the focal point for the Wildkats running attack.
"H moves well both offensively and defensively," Taylor said. "B the end of the year, he should be a strong asset for us."
"Im a bigger kid," Norwood said. "A lot of kids, a lot of fast kids, you just push yourself up to their level so you're as fast as them."
And in order for the Wildkats to reach their next level, it starts with the right attitude coming out of the gate.
"This is the moment, this year is the moment," Norwood said.
Kimball-White Lake will be looking for some revenge in their season opener Friday when they take on Mount Vernon. The Mustangs were the only team besides Bridgewater/Emery-Ethan to top the Wildkats last season.