One year ago, the Dickinson Trinity football team had 22 seniors.
This year, the Titans have two -- offensive and defensive linemen Cody Woehl and Brady Sykora.
Sykora, who didn't play his junior season, knew he couldn't leave Woehl as the only senior Titan on the roster.
"I just wanted be part of the team and I couldn't leave Cody alone, because he was the only senior that was going to play," Sykora said with a smile. "I'm definitely glad I did do it. It has been a great experience."
Though their senior season hasn't resulted in any wins, Woehl and Sykora said they wouldn't want to play for any other team.
"Our whole team hasn't given up yet," Woehl said. "We are still trying hard and we want to get that first 'W' and know how it feels to win. Going from 22 seniors to two seniors is a big difference. But all the guys -- juniors through freshmen -- have all stepped up and have done very well this year.
"I couldn't ask to play for a better team this year. Despite the record, these guys are a great team to play with."
Trinity first-year head coach John Odermann said the two seniors bring a strong leadership to the table.
"With Brady, it's one of those situations where Cody would have been the only senior," Odermann said. "Brady stepped up and was a leader on this team with a friend of his that would have otherwise been standing here alone. That's the thing that we've been teaching these kids, is that being on a football team isn't just about being on a team. You are part of a brotherhood and it's going to be tough to say goodbye to these two brothers."
However, the leadership quality isn't the only area the two seniors strive in. Woehl brings a high level of toughness, while Sykora continues to mature on the defensive line.
"Cody is one of those guys where you can tell kids that there is a difference between being hurt and being injured," Odermann said. "Cody is a guy that he doesn't have a problem playing hurt. Cody will play dinged up and it's good to have a guy like that. When you have a guy who is an example of toughness like that, it helps out a lot.
"Brady is, in a lot of ways, in the same shoes as these younger guys, because he doesn't have that much experience. But he's put the work in and, regardless of experience, he's still a leader because of his age."
Zach Kubas, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound sophomore offensive/defensive lineman, said it has been great to learn from Woehl and Sykora this season.
"They are both really good, especially since they are both at my position," Kubas said. "Cody was able to teach me last year and this year too. Brady has been a good partner and just a great guy."
The Titans have one last chance to nab their a win in the season finale. Trinity travels to Stanley-Powers Lake in a West Region game at 6 p.m. today.
Trinity and Stanley-Powers Lake share similarities -- both have first-year head coaches, each are fairly young and both are winless on the season and in West Region play.
The Titans' main concern against the Blue Jays is containing senior quarterback Levi Hoiby, who Odermann said it built like Kubas.
"They've been dealing with a lot of ups and downs like we have this year," Odermann said. "They have some good athletes. (Hoiby) is a guy that we have to shut down because he makes everything go for them. If we let him get loose and let him get some big runs, we could be in trouble. We just have to make sure that we tackle him low because a big guy like that, you can't tackle him at the shoulders. You have to make sure you tackle him low and bring him to the ground."
Though there have been a few bumps in the road, Sykora said the team is continuing to gain more experience for the future.
Trinity has 14 juniors, 15 sophomores and 13 freshmen on their roster. Odermann said many of the younger players have had to take on a larger role because there are only two seniors on the roster.
"We had a lot of younger guys that had to step up and take on bigger roles," Odermann said. "We have a lot of juniors that are going to have two senior years, because for all intents and purposes, they had to be seniors this year at the skill positions."
The Titans' biggest deterrent this year has been from self-inflicted mistakes.
Odermann hopes to the get the ball rolling against Stanley-Powers Lake so the team ends the season on a good note.
"You have to play every game with a certain amount of pride," he said. "That's something that we've been telling these guys all year. We want to get something positive going. When it comes down to it, it becomes something more than just getting the first win of the season. It's about teaching these kids about how it feels to win.
"It's not just about getting our first win this year. It's about getting that snowball rolling down the hill and getting your momentum building. This is, hopefully, that first nudge on that snowball to get our momentum rolling for the next couple of years."