As far as first impressions go, year one of the Ryan Streets-led Central DeWitt football program was a good one.
Limited to just four wins over their previous three seasons, the Sabers needed just eight weeks to surpass that number, finishing 5-4 for the program’s first winning season since 2012.
Now, with Streets back for his second season, the program has some much-appreciated continuity.
And that is important as the Sabers seek to build on the foundation established by last year’s group of 16 seniors.
So far, so good.
Central has started 2-1 despite dealing with a rash of early injuries.
The Sabers, though, have shown an ability to adapt.
That includes their own offensive tendencies.
Coming off a season in which they ran the ball nearly three times more than they threw it — having an all-state fullback like Easton Necker to hand off to helped — the Sabers have been more even with their play calls through three games, running the ball 97 times, while throwing 65 passes.
Junior quarterback Henry Bloom has shined behind center, despite battling an injury since the opener.
Bloom has completed 56 percent of his 44 attempts for nearly 400 yards and three touchdowns.
Fellow junior John McConohy started Central’s second game and has completed six passes, while adding a rushing threat as well with two touchdowns on the ground.
Senior Johnny Samora, meanwhile, gives Central three different players to turn to at quarterback.
The other half of the Sabers’ burgeoning passing attack is its talented set of receivers.
Seniors Logan Paulsen (6-6) and Tucker Kinney (6-4) — both returning all-district selections — provide big targets and have combined for 21 receptions, 287 yards and two touchdowns in the early going.
Fellow senior Caleb Pace has added six receptions, while senior Lane Krukow and junior Sean McNamara both have two.
Senior Zach Hinkle has taken over for Necker at fullback and gained over 120 yards in six quarters of work before suffering his own injury in the Sabers’ second game.
Pace has made his own impact on the ground — he is third on the team in carries — while juniors McNamara, Sean Kinney and Garrett Sailor have also seen carries.
The Sabers will also receive a lift in both the rushing and passing game from junior Kaiden Muhl, who missed the team’s first three games due to injury.
The offensive line graduated a trio of seniors, but still boasts plenty of experience.
Junior center Cole Miller and seniors Logan Henschel — an all-district pick — and Ethan Pierce saw significant time on last year’s line, which amassed 3,000 yards of offense for the first time since 2013.
Seniors Will Martin and Jack Davison, meanwhile, provide their own veteran edge with Martin having started as a sophomore.
Miller and Martin, along with seniors Quinton Buckner and Austin Henschel and junior Tyson Belk, give the Sabers size up front on defense, while junior Landon Peterson has used his speed to wreak havoc inside.
T. Kinney and junior Kaden Schnede have both seen time at defensive end — they have combined for 25 tackles in the early season — and so has Davison.
Pierce leads the linebacking corps and currently paces the team with 27 tackles.
Junior Connor Scheer has added 14 tackles in the first three games, while Hinkle, Sailor, Samora, S. Kinney and L. Henschel gives Central plenty of options.
Muhl will join seniors Jeff Fuller (one interception) and Pace as the Sabers’ cornerbacks, while senior Matthew Roling — 35 tackles last year, 17 tackles and an interception already this fall — will lead a safeties group that also includes Krukow, McConohy and Paulsen.
Peterson has booted three field goals in the early season and is 4-of-5 on extra points and has teamed with T. Kinney and Damien Van Erp for kickoffs.
Three Sabers — Bloom, junior Boomer Johnson and T. Kinney, meanwhile, have handled the punting.
Central is not the only team in 3A District 5 to deal with graduation.
The district’s top five passers last season were all seniors, so were four of the top five rushers.
Five of the six teams in District 5 have winning records — third-ranked North Scott, last year’s district champion, is 3-0; Clear Creek-Amana, Davenport Assumption and Iowa City Liberty join the Sabers with 2-1 marks — setting the stage for a wild final five weeks.