By BRETT MARSHALL

bmarshall@gctelegram.com

The two-a-days are now a thing of the past. Practicing against your own teammates has been completed. Fresh and clean jerseys and pants have been brought out and set in locker rooms.

It's time for Friday Night Football.

And Holcomb coach Jerry Johnson, with only two returning starters back from last year's 8-2 Class 3A playoff team, can't wait.

He gets to see his "new" team Friday night when the Longhorns entertain non-league opponent Hoisington in a 7 p.m. kickoff at Holcomb High School Field.

"It's been good, focused," said Johnson, who is entering his fourth year (24-6 record) at the helm. "They're honed in on what they're supposed to do. They're excited, it's game week and we've had a chance to study our opponent."

In Hoisington, the Longhorns will host a team that was whitewashed in their game a year ago, 25-0. But go back two and three seasons and you'll find that the Cardinals had the upper hand, slapping the 'Horns in the playoffs each time.

"We knew what it felt like to get a licking and so last year was good to finally win against a solid team," Johnson said. "We don't expect anything else from them this year."

The Cardinals, according to Johnson, have 18 of 22 starting positions returning. Compared to his two returners, the experience factor would tend to favor the Cardinals.

"They've got a big offensive line that is experienced," Johnson said. "In the past you could look and focus on one running back. They're not like that this year. They're just solid everywhere."

Despite the fact the 'Horns will enter the game as underdogs, Johnson feels good about this year's team being prepared for its opening game.

"I've loved the work ethic of this group," Johnson said. "They're focusing better than we have in the past and by that I mean is their knowledge of our schemes is better. They not only know where they are supposed to go but how to get there. We're getting in the right places at the right time and that's been a big-time change for us."

Johnson's offense this year, utilizing his trademark Veer-option with different looks, will have senior Logan Singhisen handling the quarterbacking duties. He will have another pair of senior backs, first-year starters, in Matt Pfeifer (170-pounds) and Isaac Gonzalez (150 pounds) to hand off for the running attack.

"We ask both our halfbacks to be a complete package," Johnson said. "They've got to be able to block, catch passes and handle the option pitch from Logan. Isaac perhaps has a bit more speed while Matt is more of a power runner for us."