MEMPHIS, Mo. -- Will Fromm vividly remembers everything about the Scotland County football team's loss in the Class 1 District 5 semifinals last season.
There was a furious second-half rally in which Fromm played a critical role, scoring on a 1-yard quarterback sneak that tied the game at 35. The Tigers had trailed top-seeded Mark Twain by two touchdowns early in the second half and ultimately lost 43-41 when a two-point conversion pass was knocked down.
And there was the song "Sweet Caroline" booming over the loadspeakers as Fromm and the rest of the team walked back to the locker room.
"We kind of hate that song now," Fromm said.
That tune and those memories are fueling the Tigers' drive to finally reach a district championship game. Scotland County lost in the semifinals each of the last two seasons.
"We think and talk about that game still," said Fromm, a junior. "It's our motivation this season."
In a way, Fromm feels it's his responsibility to lead Scotland County into unchartered territory.
Fromm takes the reins at quarterback from Aaron Buford, who led Scotland County to a 7-4 season. Fromm saw some playing time at quarterback last season, including stepping in for Buford against Mark Twain after Buford left early in the second quarter with a knee injury.
Although he was primarily an all-purpose back last season, Fromm got a taste of what it takes to be the team leader while subbing for Buford.
"That was fun to be a part of that game," said Fromm, who completed 42 of 77 passes last season for 564 yards with seven touchdowns and five interceptions. "I don't really get nerves anymore. I know what I can do."
Fromm also takes the reins from Buford as the backbone of the defensive secondary, giving first-year head coach Troy Carper an experienced leader.
Carper spent the last six seasons as an assistant at Scotland County and replaces Mikel Gragg, who resigned after two seasons at the helm. ANd last season's playoff game serves as a reminder that the Tigers will lay it all on the line.
"The heart our kids showed and the way they played that second half, it sold me that this was something I wanted to be a part of," Carper said. "We very easily could have laid over and let that team pound us the rest of the game.
"A lot of kids we have back this year were a part of that game."
It starts with Fromm, but it also includes senior Gage Dodge, who caught 11 passes 137 yards and ran the ball 39 times for 159 yards. In total, Scotland County has 11 starters returning.
"We lost a lot of talent from last year," Dodge said. "But we had a lot of talent that was back in the shadows last year. I feel like this year you'll see that talent that didn't really get shown."
SCOTLAND COUNTY: AT A GLANCE
Coach: Troy Carper (First season at Scotland County)
2016 record: 7-4 (6-2 Lewis & Clark Conference)
Offense: Pistol Spread Option
Offense -- OL Stephen Terril, 6-2, 230, Sr.; OL Mason Kliethermes, 6-0, 205, Jr.; OL Bryson Orton, 6-1, 260, Sr.; WR Gage Dodge, 5-9, 180, Sr.; QB Will Fromm, 6-1, 190, Jr.; RB Jaydan Payne, 6-1, 190, Jr.
Defense -- DL Grant McRobert, 6-1, 225, Jr.; DL Terill; DL Orton; LB Kliethermes; DB Dodge.
New Faces: WR/DB Parker Triplett, 5-10, 180, Soph.; RB/LB Branton Burrus, 5-10, 170, Soph.; WR/DB Kaden Anders, 5-10, 165, Fresh.; TE/LB Conner Harrison, 5-8, 180, Jr.
Key losses: QB/DB Aaron Buford, RB Austin Day, WR/DB Ryan Slaughter, OL/LB Aaron Blessing, OL/DL Will Pickerell.
Aug. 18 Marceline
Aug. 25 Fayette
Sept. 1 Paris
Sept. 8 at Schuyler County
Sept. 15 Salisbury
Sept. 22 at Westran
Sept. 29 at Knox County
Oct. 6 at Harrisburg
Oct. 13 South Shelby
LAST TEN YEARS
Year Overall (Conf.) Coach
2016 7-4 (6-2) Mikel Gragg
2015 6-5 (4-1) Mikel Gragg
2014 2-8 (2-3) Daniel Burns
2013 5-5 (4-1) Daniel Burns
2012 2-8 (2-3) Daniel Burns
2011 5-6 (4-1) Brent Bondurant
2010 5-6 (3-2) Brent Bondurant
2009 6-5 (3-4) Brent Bondurant
2008 1-9 (0-7) Brent Bondurant
2007 0-10 (0-7) Brent Bondurant
*--Scotland County joined the Lewis & Clark Conference in 2016.