JAY COUNTY, Ind. (WANE) – 2021 showed plenty of growing pains, but promise for the Jay County football program.

In his first game as head coach, Grant Zgunda helped Jay County snap a 10-game losing streak. The Patriots did finish with a 3-7 record, but it was their best in three seasons.

With most of last year’s starters set to return, Jay County hopes to break out in the Allen County Athletic Conference in 2022.

“We have a lot more experience now,” said senior wideout and safety Brady Davis. “Last year we had guys just step in and play a game right away. this time everyone’s played varsity before.”

This summer, Zgunda has emphasized being a more a physical team. During Northeast Indiana High School Football Media Day, a few Jay County players admitted the team struggled with that aspect of the game last year. This year’s senior class hopes the added emphasis on physicality can result in more wins.

“I want a culture change at our football program, and that’s what we need,” said senior running back and linebacker Kadin Ridenour. “Hopefully by winning more games that will get people more pumped up. It will get our players that actually want to work out and do stuff that we need to do to win more games.”

Zgunda has also enjoyed a full offseason with the players, something that he was unable to benefit from last year.

“I think the kids believe in what we’re doing,” Zgunda said. “I believe in them, and I feel like we have a good team athletically and work-ethic wise. I think we’re goingn to surprise some people.”

Jay County opens the season at Blackford on Aug. 19.