Reload is the name of the game for Tony Armas this winter.
After graduating seven senior starters, including a two-time state champion and three other state-placers, the Bremen High School head wrestling coach has to replace half of his lineup for the 2017-18 campaign — and that's where the strength of the program comes into play.
Armas will be the first to admit that his Blue Devils are far from a finished product at this point — not that they should be in early December — but the wheels are in motion for the defending Class AAA state dual and traditional champions to defend their crown as several new faces to the lineup are learning the ways of the varsity world early in the season.
Armas and the Bremen coaching staff knew what was coming with the departure of the outgoing seniors, but now it presents an opportunity for the newcomers to keep the proud tradition of Blue Devil wrestling going strong this season.
"We had to get some other guys ready," Armas said. "Hopefully, these guys get a little tougher and we can move some people in the lineup to cover all the weights and we can get everybody out."
Of course, the cupboard certainly isn't bare in the Bremen wrestling room, as the Blue Devils return some heavy hitters at the top of the lineup, led by senior heavyweight and two-time state champion Paul Robinson, along with senior Noah Liles, who is coming off an undefeated state championship showing at 170 last year. At 195, Jacob Miles is also back after finishing sixth at state. Jacob Stephens steps in at 220 to help solidify that core in the upper weights.
"Obviously, we've got some hammers. We've got some guys that can just go, go," Armas said. "But we've got to get a little better up and down the lineup."
Koby Cook, who finished second at state last year, returns to lead the middle weights at 160 pounds, while A.J. Brock is another state qualifier who returns at 138.
Rounding out the middle weights are Lane Keaton, Joseph Lyons and Luke Chandler, while Brandon Oaks is a returning state-placer in the lower weights after taking fifth at 106 pounds last year.
The lower weights are a work-in-progress for Bremen, which is one of the main concerns for Armas in currently not having a 106-pounder.
But the focus through the month of December leading up to area and state duals in early to mid-January is getting better every day in the room and at the big weekend events.
Bremen travels to Oxford, Alabama, today for a 5 p.m. match before a top-level competition at the Dobyns-Bennett Classic in Kingsport, Tennessee, on Friday and Saturday.
Armas has been pleased with the leadership from his senior stalwarts such as Robinson and Liles and now it's a matter of getting everyone else up to speed and solidifying the lineup to make another run in Macon.
"They're doing a great job of bringing leadership to the room. The kids are working hard," Armas said. "We've just got to get in the room and we've got to get to work."