Last season, Ridgewood achieved its first winning season since Cambridge and Alwood high schools agreed to form a football co-op.

Ridgewood had seniors at the skill positions, and picked up wins against Peoria Heights, Bushnell-West Prairie, Stark County, West Central and Monmouth United.

And the playoffs?

Well, that was an opportunity lost in a muddy mess. In the muck on Sept. 7 in Galva, a safety proved to be the difference and Mid-County came away with a 2-0 victory.

“Last year we hit a big one when we got to five wins,” says coach Bruce Redding. “We had a little setback against Mid-County in a nice rainy muddy mess. The loss kept us out of the playoffs.”

So, Redding says, the next goal is to win six games in a season. “We got step one,” he says. “Now step two. Baby steps.”

But without many returning starters, the new lineup is largely untested.

“It’s still a work in progress,” Redding says. “Kids are raw. Kids are working hard. They are going in the right direction.”

Logan Nodine, a 6-foot senior, will be the quarterback. He started two games last year: Losses to Mercer County and Annawan-Wethersfield.

He will be relying on junior running back D.J. VanHouten. The receiving corp has a big target in 6-foot-5 junior Lucas Althaus. Other receivers are senior Weston Brown and junior Colton Stahl. “Young, fast kids,” Redding says. “Lot of talent, lot of speed. Experience, we’re a little bit lacking.”

The team has familiarity with Redding’s system on the defensive side.

Anchoring the defensive line will be Alex Johnson, 220-pound junior. Nodine started at strong safety, VanHouten was a linebacker and Brown played corner.

“They’ve been in my system for several years,” says Redding, who was an assistant before taking on head coaching duties last season. “They know what’s going on. They just haven’t seen the field in varsity games.”

The team’s relative inexperience hasn’t diminished the eagerness Redding has seen in practice. “It’s going to be an exciting year,” he says. “We have aggressiveness. And Speed. Should make for some fun and interesting games.”