Experience and youth. It’s a combination Calaveras football coach Jason Weatherby believes is a winning one.

The varsity team lost 12 seniors last year.

The juniors have stepped up, said Weatherby.

“Honestly, this is their (this year’s seniors) team,” he said.

A graduating class is a glass half full scenario for Weatherby.

You don’t lose them, you use them to help develop the next round of leaders, he said.

The team went 8-3 in the 2016 season. For Weatherby that leaves room for improvement.

Summer workouts have been packed with the basics, catching, running. And learning how to stay committed.

If there’s one additional element the team will need to earn a playoff spot, Weatherby said it’s avoiding injuries.

Calaveras ended last season with a 38-7 first-round loss to Marysville. Weatherby said it felt like the team won the first quarter, but then let their guard down and played like they had already won the game.

Calaveras starts their season against Merced’s El Capitan.

They’re a young team with a new coach, said Weatherby.

“They’re talented, hopefully we can stop their athleticism,” he said.

Calaveras will look to running back Tanner Joses who fits well with the Calaveras offense.

Dylan Byrd at quarterback gives the team efficiency and an option on defense.

Senior John Kelley is in his fourth year as a starter and he’ll be relied on to lead the offensive line.

Calaveras also has Chance Norton. He’s a dual threat that’s strong on defense, but also runs the ball.

The game is at Calaveras High School, 350 High School St, San Andreas, CA, at 7 p.m. tonight.