At the beginning of a season all teams are confident in their ability whether they have been proven or not.
The Moffat County High School boys golf team has the same confidence with proven ability to back it up. The top three golfers returning from last year's fourth-place regional team will be entering their senior year and are focused on having a successful season.
"The top three returning seniors could help this team be one of the better teams I've coached," said golf coach Ken Harjes, who is in his 22nd year of coaching. "They care about the team and the sport, and they are always looking to improve their game because of that."
The three seniors Harjes spoke of are Evan Pressley, Cody Deguelle and Garrett Schopper.
Pressley led the team through most of last year. He won the home tournament and was named to the All Western Slope team as an honorable mention golfer with the 15th best stroke-average of back range golfers. Pressley missed qualifying for state by one stroke, creating a slightly disappointing end to a strong season.
"It is hard for the high school golfers when just one day determines if you go to state or not," Harjes said. "Evan was just a little off that day and one of the best golfers didn't get to go to state because of a couple bad strokes."
In order to qualify for state as an individual a golfer's score must be in the top six, not including the scores of players on the two teams to qualify.
Deguelle was the team's lone state qualifier last year after a breakthrough round at the regional tournament.
"Cody has been playing a lot of golf this summer," said Pressley, who finished second in the Moffat County Golf Club's junior tournament. "He should be ready for the season."
"Cody and Evan should be two of the top 10 golfers on the Western Slope this year," Harjes said. "The team will look to them because they are good leaders by their actions on and off the course."
Schopper, the third link of the Bulldog's returning talent, continues to better his game and impress his coach.
"Garret is one of the most improved players in the last two years on the team,' Harjes said. "He should regularly be in the top three and solidify that spot."
The fourth and fifth spots that round out the varsity squad are still uncertain.
"The last two spots will probably change throughout the season," Harjes said.
"We just don't know coming off the summer how much the players have improved over the break and how well they will play during the season."
"We'll have those two in place by the end of the season," Pressley said. "We've got enough depth that there will be two good players to complete the team."
Harjes said the biggest challenge for the team is to keep improving at or above the rate of other Western Slope teams.
"Just a couple of years ago a score of 81 would easily get you to state," he said. "Now the golf back here has improved to the point that an 80 or better is what it takes."
Pressley agrees with what it will take to get the team to state.
"We'll have to have strong golf in the 70s," he said. "It will be important for us to do well early and possibly win a couple of meets. A good early season can foreshadow the success of the state tournament."
The course commandos will be hitting the road early with six tournaments before the start of the school year.
"We'll probably travel the most of the fall teams," Harjes said. "But this is a good group to travel with so it is fun."
If improvement continues like Harjes and Pressley predict, the teams should be a great group to watch as well.