LEROY — Practices have just gotten under way for Pine River’s football program but there’s quite a bit of optimism for coach Terry Martin and his players.

The Bucks are coming off a 3-6 season last fall in Martin’s first year.

On Monday, “we worked on implementing all of our offensive stuff,” Martin said. “Just all the pad restrictions give us a lot of time with no contact. Defense is a little harder to put in without having any contact. This week, the first few days, we’ll implement our offense. By the end of the week, we’ll get into more defense.”

On the varsity level, Martin has around 25 kids this season.

“It’s definitely up from 17,” Martin said. “We’ll be able to limit (two-way players) quite a bit. Last year, we had a handful of kids that couldn’t come off the field. There were no backups. In the fourth quarter, being able to keep up the tempo on our offense and defensively... those are the areas that will help us the most.

“Depth breeds competition. That’s always a good thing.”

There are a few spots up for grabs, Martin indicated.

“We’re returning a few starters from last year,” he said.

There will be competition at quarterback with Mason Powell and Tyler Wing bidding for the job right now. Skyler Nelson had been the quarterback the past three seasons but has graduated.

Seniors like Mitch McDonald, Brandon Fulks, Greg Park and Tyler McCurry will be among the key figures for the team that also hopes to be a factor in the Highland Conference against the likes of defending champion Beal City.