WAYNE, Neb. — After a historic run last year, coming just one game short of the state championship game, the Wayne High Blue Devils are heading into a fresh season.

“Going into the off-season, we were hoping our guys were hungry, getting into the weight room and wanting to do some off-season stuff and get ready for this year," Wayne baseball head coach Adam Hoffman said. "I felt like our guys have done a good job of that.”

Last year marked the first time since 1983 the Blue Devils had made it to the state tournament falling.

The Blue Devils led the entire game against Omaha Roncalli Catholic until the top of the seventh inning, where they surrendered three runs.

With that in mind, Hoffman said it all comes down to one thing.

“It’s just going to come down to who’s going to be those guys and how are they going to react to some adversity," Hoffman said. "How are we going to be able to handle some of that stuff as a team and as individuals.”

Hoffman said there are big shoes to fill from the group of seniors from last year’s team.

One of those was current Cornhusker Brooks Kneifl who graduated and was recruited to Will Bolt’s roster for his freshman year in college.

One of the seniors on this year’s team is center fielder Devin Anderson who is now poised to step into that role as a leader.

“Last year, we had a bunch of team players who just knew how to play together well,” Anderson said.  “Although a few of those people are gone, we have to have more people to step up this year and take bigger roles.”

One exciting piece for the team is freshman shortstop Jaxson Kneifl, the younger brother to former Blue Devils star Brooks Kneifl.

Despite sibling rivalries growing up, Jaxson said his brother continues to be one of his biggest influences in honing his craft on the diamond.

“I would always go to his games growing up just because we’re family and try to copy my game like him because he’s a great player," Kneifl said.

Hoffman said Kneifl will be a contributor for the Blue Devils and is looking to him play all positions for the team.

Wayne starts off their season against Wahoo/Bishop Neumann on Thursday before their first home game of the year against Adams Central on Friday, the team they beat to get to the state tournament last year.