PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — A 1-8 football season is not typical at Richwoods.

But that was the Knights record last fall. The good thing is that was last year and this is a brand new season.

There are signs things will be better for the Knights. Head coach Jim Ulrich says there are 125 players in the program, “most in a while.”

Among the 50 players he has on the varsity roster are eight returning starters, including senior quarterback Greg Burnside. And there are nine defensive starters back from last year.

That Knights defense figures to be better because it has worked hard an improving last season’s weak area, Ulrich said.

He’s talking about tackling.

“Our defense wasn’t that good last year,” said senior defensive lineman Jared Culberson. “Teams had big runs against us and big passes. Since we’ve been working on so much tackling, I feel like not a lot of teams will have success against us running the ball.”

Others agree.

“We have definitely been emphasizing our physicality, when it comes to blocking and tackling,” said senior linebacker Connor McDonald. “We’ve worked on our technique when it comes to both of these too. I think we have a real shot at the playoffs this year. I think we are lot better than what we were last year.”

Richwoods opens the season at home against Big 12 foe Bloomington on Aug. 26.