The Eden Bulldogs have been undergoing a rebuilding process in more ways than one this year.
While the football team is adjusting to a new head coach for a program that has only three returning lettermen, they're also getting to know their new school building, which opened this month.
For first-year head coach Josh Raulston, who wasn't hired until June, it's been a whirlwind introduction.
"It's been a learning process for me so far, getting to know everything in Eden and then moving into a brand new school with the construction and everything, there's a lot going on," Raulston said. "I've just been learning what type of kids we have and figuring them out, and having them figure out my program and getting them incorporated. It's been a fun process."
Raulston grew up in the small town of Blum and spent the past four seasons at Knox City, where he was the head track coach and an assistant football coach.
He takes over an Eden program that was 5-4 overall last year and 2-2 in district. The Bulldogs last made the playoffs in 2019 when they won the second of back-to-back district championships, which ended a title drought that had extended to 1994.
Eden had a chance to qualify for the playoffs in the regular-season finale last year, but lost 91-62 to an Irion County team that enters this year ranked No. 10 in the state.
The Bulldogs have only three seniors -- Jesus Morales, Diego Sorola and Calvin Malone -- leading a young team.
"Half my team is freshmen with a few sophomores and juniors mixed in, so it's nice having those three leading the way," Raulston said.
Morales is projected to be the team's feature back on offense and a linebacker on defense.
"He'll be a running back or spread back for us. Everything's going to go through him on offense," Raulston said.
Sorola and Malone will anchor the Bulldogs' offensive and defensive lines.
Eden will have six nondistrict games to get ready for District 13-1A Division I, which includes Irion County, Menard, Robert Lee and Veribest.
Menard is dropping to the six-man level for the first time, and the move will rekindle its rivalry with Eden, which played its last 11-man game in 2005.
With such a young team, every game will be important for getting the new players up to speed, Raulston said.
Whether his team is experienced or not, Raulston said the goal each season will be a state championship.
"That's going to be our aim as long as I'm here. And wherever we fall, whether it's in the first round of the playoffs or a district championship or not making it at all, as long as we're aiming for that goal, we're doing it right and putting our best effort forward," Raulston said.
Eden will open its season Friday, Aug. 26. on the road at Leakey. The Bulldogs' first home game is Sept. 2 against Blackwell.
District: 13-1A Division I
Head coach: Josh Raulston (0-0; 0-0 at Eden)
Last year’s record: 5-4, 2-2 district
Last district title/playoff appearance: 2019/2019
Stadium: Sanders Field
Returning lettermen: 3
Returning off./def. starters: 3/2
Base offense: Spread
Base defense: 4-2
Team strength: Athleticism
Team weakness: Depth
Players to watch
RB/LB Jesus Morales (5-7, 135), C Calvin Malone (6-0, 290), DL Diego Sorola (6-0, 185), RB/DB Devon Cortez (5-6, 145), RB/DL Damien Stewart
Aug. 26 at Leakey
Sept. 2 Blackwell
Sept. 9 at Blanket
Sept. 16 Gustine
Sept. 23 at Bronte
Sept. 30 at Lometa
Oct. 7 Veribest*
Oct. 14 at Irion County*
Oct. 28 Robert Lee*
Nov. 4 at Menard*
Blackwell W 40-34 (OT)
Leakey W 50-45
Garden City L 0-50
Morgan W 76-28
Sterling City L 6-52
Veribest W 46-0
Water Valley L 18-71
Paint Rock W 58-12
Irion County L 62-91
This article originally appeared on San Angelo Standard-Times: Eden Bulldogs tackle rebuilding project in 2022 football season