CHEROKEE — The Southeast, of Cherokee, Lancers were the surprise team of the league last year. Picked to finish near last place, they were instead the No. 3 team in the Crawford-Neosho-Cherokee league.

They are again picked fairly far down at No. 6 after losing several seniors, but new Head Coach Jake Lott said they return many players on the line, and expect to contend for the championship again this year.

“We return a lot on the line,” he said. “But we lost a lot of skills.”

The position of quarterback is still up in the air, but it’s come down to Caleb Biancarelli and Chandler Jackson.

“We’re young, we have just two seniors on the team,” Lott said, adding that youth has it’s advantages as the teaches the team an entirely new offense.

Lott said the defensive structure will remain the same as last year’s but the offense will be a “flex-bone” system.

“It’s a lot of things,” he said. “It can be spread or it can be powerlook. It’s a whole new offense, a whole new philosophy.”

Lott, who was an assistant at Neodesha High School last season, said despite first round opponent Columbus being ranked No. 1 in the preseason poll, the CNC is a very even league.

“Until someone consistently knocks off Colgan, it’s hard to tell who’s on top.” Lott said.

Lott and his Lancers face Columbus 7 p.m. Sept. 5 at home for the season opener.