First-year coach Austin Byrum has a lot of experience working in his favor at the helm at Christian County.

The Colonels have 15 upperclassmen on their roster, which makes the job a little easier on Byrum, who can do a lot more with his older players.

Coming off an 8-12-1 season from a year ago, Byrum is trying to change the culture of the program quickly, and that starts with the senior class.

"My seniors are the backbone," he said. "The work they put in, how much they talk, how much they integrate and get the team involved -- whether that's seventh graders to the seniors. We're changing the culture around here and the seniors are very important to that. Those younger guys, that's who they look up to."

The first step into turning the program into what the first-year gaffer wants it to be is developing good communication on the pitch.

"That's the most important part -- it makes the job so much easier," Byrum said. "We've transitioned to where our communication has been so much better."

The Colonels lost their leading scorer and starting goaltender form a year ago, but return a lot of key pieces that could help make the 2019 season a special one.

Byrum said he wants to make sure the team has the leadership and work ethic to generate the success.

"I just want to make sure we have a team full of leaders," Byrum said. "You never know when your name is going to be called. I want these guys to continuously play hard. I know we're going to play hard. When it comes down to it, we're going to play hard for the whole 80 minutes ... Whatever it takes, our guys are going to be prepared to play hard every day."

Byrum has already gotten a taste of coaching, as County has played in two scrimmages coming into the season.

He said there were moments he liked and others he didn't during those scrimmages.

"First scrimmage we had, we had a great first half," he said. "We played well, we communicated, we had really good passing (and) possession and we were getting good shots on target. Second half of our scrimmage against Apollo, we came out and we played lackadaisical. In this scrimmage (against Todd County Central), we put a practice plan in all week and we've worked it to a T."

The Colonels open the season on Aug. 15 against Trigg County. As County nears that date, Byrum's goals for the year are very simple ones.

"Just communicate, play hard, do things the right way and hopefully we'll make a run at the district and the region and give ourselves a shot," Byrum said.

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