BY MARK SCHMETZER
John Wysong believes his fledgling Holy Cross football program might have come of age last season in a loss.
The Indians completed their first season in the sport with an overtime loss at Bardstown Bethlehem in the first round of a postseason eight-man tournament.
''We fell behind, then came back and forced overtime, where we lost by one point,'' said Wysong, who founded Holy Cross' program last fall after 15 years as an assistant at Purcell Marian. ''The kids finally came together and realized what it's all about.''
Wysong's team went 1-8 in its inaugural season, but he believes better days might be on the horizon. The Indians face all of the local teams in Class A district play this year: Holmes, Bellevue, Newport Central Catholic, Dayton, Ludlow and perennial power Beechwood.
''We're anxious,'' Wysong said. ''We have a pretty good schedule going into (Northern Kentucky Athletic Conference) play, and I think we've got a reasonable chance of making it into the district (postseason).
''All we did last year was get the kids some experience. We just wanted to get them out there and learn the basics. Hopefully, we'll have enough kids coming back with experience to have a shot this year. We're real excited about the possibilities this year. We've got some good-looking kids. Hopefully, the key positions fall into place.''
Only 15 of 29 possible returnees came back for Holy Cross' second season, but they has been buttressed by several transfers and a crop of 19 freshmen. The Holy Cross roster lists 51 players, an increase of 14 over last year's roster.
''Most of our starters are returning,'' senior tackle Joe Scully said. ''We know what we have to do to win. I think we did pretty good for our first year as far as going out and playing a varsity schedule. Playing other varsity teams helped us out pretty much.''
Scully and Wysong agree on one thing: The support for Holy Cross football probably can't be improved. They still marvel over the backing a team lacking a home field received from its fans last season.
''We got terrific support, especially for some of the games around home,'' Wysong said. ''Our first game around here was when we went over to Dayton, and we had 700 or 750 fans.''
Holy Cross will play its first ''home'' game Oct. 22 when it borrows Holmes' field to play host to Dayton.
''It's Homecoming,'' Wysong said. ''We can't wait.''