They say football is a game of inches, but Daniel Boone coach Bill Parks might take that axiom one step farther after last season.
After a 1-4 start, the Blazers put together a stretch in which they won three times in four games en route to a 4-6 finish.
And when the smoke cleared ... Boone wound up missing the District 3-AAA Tournament by less than two-thousands of a point in the district's final power ratings.
"When you're that close, it can come down to one play, one person, really one inch over the course of a season,' Parks said. "That can make the difference between making and missing the playoffs.'
So it shouldn't come as a surprise this season that Parks — who enters his third year as the Blazers' head coach — is continuing to stress the little things in the hopes Boone can continue its upward trend.
In his first season, the Blazers were 2-8 before they doubled that victory total last year.
"We're trying to build from the ground up and carry it right through the middle school to up here (at the varsity level),' Parks said. "The kids coming up through have been with me three years now, and it's starting to get easier for them (to grasp the system). We really stress fundamentals and work that constantly.'
The Blazers have a solid group of returners on both sides of the ball, most notably a defense that returns seven starters — including middle linebacker Jon Passifione, an honorable mention All-Area selection last year, and defensive tackle Darius Hinton, a second-team All-Area pick.
Connor Johnson, a 6-4, 250-pound senior tackle, and junior end Cinque Ramsey highlight the D-line, with corners Chris Ford and Paul Galanti and safeties Shayne Bookwalter and Nick Hughes forming the secondary.
On offense, Hughes returns at quarterback after learning the ropes last year as a sophomore.
With star running back Kyle Myers (1,172 yards, 14 TDs) having graduated, Ramsey, Passifione, Galanti are expected to provide what could be a well-balanced ground game.
John Charles — who had 30 receptions for 459 yards for Pottstown last year — is a new addition at wideout, and will combine with Bookwalter to bolster the passing game.
"I think we really want to play fast and spread the ball out offensively,' Parks said. "And defensively we want to use our speed to our advantage.'
The O-line will be led by Johnson and center Jared Gaspari, another returning starter.
"We had great improvement over the summer,' Hughes said. "We definitely want to keep the pace up on offense and have a hard-hitting defense that can force some turnovers.'
Boone again has a formidable task right off the bat, opening Friday at traditional Lancaster-Lebanon Section 2 power Cocalico.
"There's definitely some things we need to iron out and get better at before then,' Parks said.
As far as Section 1 of the Berks Football League, Boone (3-4 last year) is hoping to be more of a factor.
Four-time defending section champ Governor Mifflin, which has won 25 league games in a row, will again be a prohibitive favorite.
Exeter, Conrad Weiser and Muhlenberg are considered the top challengers to the Mustangs' throne, while the Blazers could be part of the mix should they continue to move forward — inch-by-inch, if need be.
Follow Darryl Grumling on Twitter at @MercSmokinD.