EAST LIVERPOOL, Ohio (WKBN) – Nothing gets you ready to lead a team than getting thrown into the fire as a sophomore, like Beaver Local senior Austin Cline, who is collecting two full years starting under his belt.

“My sophomore year, I was just kind of throwing it, just kind of out there winging it,” Cline said. “But now I feel like I understand everything that’s going on, so it just slows the game down for me.”

Over the course of that time, head coach Mike McKenzie has seen Cline settle into the role while gaining that experience.

“Last year, we started to see it, and really this year, we’ve done everything, he’s done it all,” McKenzie said. “So even when he makes a mistake, he comes back and says, ‘You know, I did this wrong,’ and he already knows what the mistake was.”

Last year’s Big 22 member and the Beavers’ starting quarterback is in line for another big year to cap off his long career under center after posting 2,300 passing yards, 1,100 rushing yards and 41 total touchdowns last season.

“You’re not even thinking, you’re just doing, and so when you’re out there and everything’s clicking, everything’s feeling right, you know, it’s just it feels nice,” Cline said. “You’re just in the zone, you almost black out a little bit — it’s like the game’s over in a blink of an eye.”

Especially coming off a 9-3 season where they scored 47.5 points a game, McKenzie and staff will lean on Cline early to lead the team as they sort out some newcomers.

“It’s going to be a process, you know, but those years can also be fun because watching that growth that occurs exponentially whenever they start getting more of those varsity experiences,” McKenzie said. “So we expect to see a lot of growth each and every week as we go through this year.”

“I just, I love seeing people that didn’t exactly play last year come in and do things that I haven’t seen them do before because they didn’t have the chance to,” Cline said. “I just love seeing them grow as people and grow as players and it’s just great.”

Beaver Local opens up the season at home as they host Struthers at home on August 18.