The starting lineup is built with a quarterback, wide receiver, tight end, linebacker and defensive end. Off the bench comes two more linebackers and another wide receiver.
Is it a football team? Yes, and a great one at that. But for the next four months, this is better known as Mulvane boys' basketball.
It may seem odd, but these guys have been playing – and winning – together for a long time. The switch from pads and pigskin to sneakers and leather is seamless.
“For a lot of groups, it would be hard, but for the people on our team, it won't be a tough transition because of the chemistry, and we all love the three sports we play,” said linebacker and post player Zach Haynes. “We're all competitors.”
This season has been in the making since the group won a league title in eighth grade. The Wildcats are older and wiser. They know the time is now. Only days removed from a loss in the 4A state semifinal in football, Mulvane is hastily refocusing its priorities.
“I think the loss Friday night against Holton will really help define us,” Haynes said. “We don't want our basketball team to end how our football season ended.”
Haynes is an undersized post player, but he uses his strength to muscle for position. Joining him in the lane is defensive end Jarrett Price.
While either player can score, Haynes said the duo loves rebounding. Forever defensive minded, Haynes and Price want to get the ball back to its offensive playmakers – just like on the gridiron.
“We have a bunch of scorers this year,” Haynes said. “I'm not going to get the names in the paper, but with what I do, we're going to win a lot of games with hustling. I picture my job as to let the scorers score, and me do my thing.”
The offense revs up behind quarterback Ty Redington. A 41 percent 3-point shooter, Redington carved up defenses for 15 points per game a season ago.
But on the court, Redington hands off playmaking duties. Those go to Nolan Smith, the wide-receiver-turned-point-guard who keeps defenses honest.
Rounding out the starting five is tight end Alex Evans. He is the safety valve. He scores when the offense needs a new threat to step in. On defense, his quick hands lead to several steals a game.
Cole Williams, Kyle Kilby and Collin Dempsey bring energy off the bench.
Dempsey, a junior, is the only player in the top eight of the rotation that is not a senior. Mulvane is counting on its experience early as the roster scrambles to get up to speed after a long football postseason.
“Losing a week of practice will put us behind initially, but having a senior dominant team will hopefully help us catch up quickly,” said Don Shirley, head coach. “This is my third year at Mulvane, and the kids know what we stress and what we value.”
The Wildcats are coming off an 11-11 season. Considering that two years before that, they won two games total, Mulvane has come a long way.
Defense is a potential pitfall. So is rebounding, as Mulvane is lacking in height.
But much of that can be remedied because of something as simple as friendship. The Wildcats have went through battles together for years. They communicate well. They pick each other up. No one dares not to hustle, because that means betraying the brethren.
“We love each other. It's going to be one great year,” Haynes said. “ This is the year we've been waiting for.”
Mulvane opens the season Nov. 30 against Augusta.