Two years ago, the Murray County Central football team was looking ahead to when Jack Thony could have his shot as a starter.
The Rebels found out just how good that plan was in their season opener.
The senior running back accounted for 263 total yards and four touchdowns, including the game-winning run in the second overtime of a 52-46 victory over Tracy-Milroy-Balaton.
"We knew what we had coming in," said MCC head coach Chris Davis. "This was the plan two years ago that when Chris (Halbur) graduated, we were going to move Jack over to Chris's spot."
Thony, who is a three-sport athlete at MCC and placed fourth in the 100-meter dash at the Class A state meet, was ready to go coming into the season.
"Track's not one of my favorite sports, but the off season helped me the most," Thony said. "Working out probably prepared me for this year."
Thony and Mitch Reinsma shared the play-running duties last season, bringing the plays to the huddle, so Coach Davis knew he had a pair of capable backs.
"The biggest thing was we had two backs we ran plays in last year with him and Mitch Reinsma. We just knew Jack knew the speed of the game so we could move him over to Chris's spot," Davis said. "We knew we would lose Chris, but we also gained a little bit of speed.
"Of course Mitch Reinsma had 100-plus yards rushing on the other side too. It makes it tough for defenses we are going to face, which guy are you going to worry about."
Thony, who finished the first game with 197 yards rushing and 66 yards receiving, didn't look at filling Halbur's shoes as much as he saw an improved team.
"This year we looked to get better and improve the defense," said Thony. "I didn't look at it as filling Chris's shoes, I thought we had an overall better team this year. We have other goals than filling Chris's shoes."
Davis said that while Thony isn't a vocal leader, his leadership comes from actions.
"He's a leader by example. He does his talking on the field and that's the way he is," Davis said. "He's a great student and it's one of those things where he leads by example."
With three touchdowns on the ground and one through the air, Thony played a big part in the Rebels' first win, but is quick to praise others.
"The linemen were doing their job. Everyone was making plays," said Thony. "I just want to go out and do (well). Hopefully the team wants to do the same."
Davis is pleased with not only Thony's performance against TMB, but also the rest of the team, and he sees good things coming from that first win.
"I think it's going to motivate everybody. It's one of those games where momentum switched back and forth and it's one of those games where our kids could have folded up the tent and instead they showed the fortitude the seniors have with senior leadership," said Davis. "Give Tracy-Milroy-Balaton all the credit in the world. They kept coming back and it's one of those things for us where we learned more about ourselves as a team in that game than we could have hoped for."
For Thony, there's no time to dwell on the victory. It's on to the next phase of the game.
"Our goal is to take it game by game, practice by practice, meeting by meeting," Thony said.