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The galling aspect of the 2012-2013 season for the Cincinnati Wolfhounds was how quickly they fell from top to bottom (almost) of the heap.
The Wolfhounds played well in the fall of 2012, finishing their regular Midwest season 7-1. But they faltered in the playoffs and, as a result, found themselves playing, desperately, to stay in DI.
Just tells you how important the playoffs are, especially playoffs that are held the other side of a long winter break.
Back to this fall, and the Wolfhounds have seen many veteran players call it a day. Injury, retirement, and work and family have pulled away many of the experienced players, leaving Head Coach Nick Lauterbach wondering what his team will look like.
As it turned out, not bad at all.
"The numbers are up," said the coach. "A lot of players, a lot of young players, are coming in knowing they have a good shot at making the 1st team. We've got players coming up from our DIII squad and some new recruits."
A younger Wolfhounds team might mean some youthful mistakes, and certainly some hiccups in putting together the right combinations, but Lauterbach seems energized by the prospect.
"The biggest issue is that we don't have much of a buildup, with the season starting in August," he said. "But we do still have a core of veterans who will keep us together. The newer players will have to adjust to the speed of the game and the fitness levels required to compete in DI in the Midwest."
No superstar young players have emerged, yet, but the young group is solid, said the coach. Tony Schenke is back from a knee injury and will captain the team.
But overall, it's going to be a tough row to hoe for the Wolfhounds. They open against the Chicago Lions this weekend and they face Columbus, Metropolis, the Griffins and Palmer in quick succession.
As all top clubs want, there are no easy games. For the Wolfhounds trying to herd some new talent into a cohesive whole, that is especially true.