Kyler Mai back, but not at QB, for Dayspring Christian football

Dayspring junior quarterback Kylar Mai is brought down by Caliche junior Joel Contreras during the third quarter of the 8-man state championship game played in Iliff. (Dennis Pleuss)

Dayspring Christian's Kylar Mai is back, but he's moving to halfback this season. (Dennis Pleuss)

Considering the consistency Dayspring Christian Academy has exhibited in the past decade, it's safe to say the Greeley school has some things figured out.

Mainly complacency breeds down seasons, and if nothing else the defending 8-man football championship team is anything but gratified.

"You're asking 8,555 questions about (the state championship) and we don't talk about it," Eagles coach Mick Holmes said.

OK coach.

But how are things changing after an undefeated season last year?

Pretty strikingly, actually.

All do everything quarterback Kylar Mai — he of 1,458 yards passing and 22 touchdowns and 2,308 yards rushing and another 37 touchdowns — returns but won't be under center.

He's making a full time switch to halfback.

"He's our best ball carrier, but he struggled at times to throw the ball," Holmes said. "He did adequate throwing the ball."

In his place the Eagles are trying out a trio of different quarterbacks to fill in. The move, Holmes said, started being discussed this summer among the staff.

As the chats continued, it continued to make more sense.

It's also partly because Mai hopes to play beyond high school and Holmes said his future isn't as a quarterback but as a running back.

The move though is risky.

Mai was a one-man, 8-man wrecking machine last year, saving possibly his best game for the state championship game against Caliche.

There Mai threw for 147 yards and three touchdowns, while adding 28 carries for 295 yards and another two touchdowns.

"I can't answer if it will work out," Holmes said. "The jury is still out. We have two kids that throw the ball better than him."

If nothing else, Dayspring knows what it takes to have playoff success. Coming out the Plains League — the toughest in 8-man — Dayspring consistently is a contender for a state title.

Having won two of the past three, though, Holmes said 8-man can be fickle. He points to a 2012 first round exit in the playoffs where the Eagles had eight turnovers and to last year's 35-28 win against Caliche in the state championship.

There, Caliche had the ball in the red zone three times and came away with three turnovers.

"My philosophy is this: We don't talk about the state championship ever," Holmes said. "We talk about working hard and taking care of things we control."

8-man football

Defending champion: Dayspring Christian

Runner-up: Caliche

Returning All-State players: Brody Donoho, Dayspring Christian, senior; Kylar Mai, Dayspring Christian, senior; Jon Wiseman, Dayspring Christian, senior

Regular season begins: Aug. 21

Playoffs begin: Nov. 1

Championship: Nov. 22 at home site