OVERTON -- After a 7-5 season in his first campaign with the Mustangs, Overton head coach Josh Barton believes his team is a step ahead of where it was a year ago.

Barton and his staff came to Overton a year ago and led the Mustangs to the most wins in a season since a 9-2 mark in 2005. Overton's 34-7 first-round playoff win against Wortham in 2012 was the Mustangs' first postseason victory since 1995, when Overton finished 13-2 with a state semifinal appearance.

Overton QB Brayton Pierce. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)

"Last year we were starting the first day of two-a-days from Square 1, so at least we got to come out here (Monday morning) and the kids understood what we're asking and what we wanted and jumped in," Barton said. "I think the intensity was there. Most of them retained the information that was given to them in the spring. I feel like we're a step ahead from where we were this time last year."

Replacing quarterback K.J. Luster and running back/linebacker are top priorities. Luster and Roach helped Overton average 29.0 points per game in District 10-A Division II play, which the Mustangs finished 3-1. Roach was also Overton's leading tackler and a key leader on both sides of the ball.

Barton said senior T.J. Lewis will play a key role replacing Roach at linebacker, while junior Brayton Pierce takes over quarterbacking duties.

"(Lewis) is a tough kid who's gonna work hard. He's a smart kid so he's gonna use every bit of that," Barton said. "He gets after it. I think he's gonna be a leader on the defense.

Overton RB/FS Jamal Kelly. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)

"(Pierce) got some game action (as a backup). He'll step up and do a good job on offense. He's a smart kid and he distributes the ball to the playmakers."

Speaking of playmakers, Jamal Kelly is back after a huge season on defense and an offensive campaign that saw him limited by a hand injury.

Kelly had 129 tackles and four forced fumbles from his safety spot, where he'll again patrol the back of Overton's defense. He ran for 500-plus yards in only three games but should get the call in the backfield from the start in 2013.

"He was so limited last year (on offense) with his hand in a cast. He's a guy that everybody kinda leans on and looks at for that leadership," Barton said. "He's our vocal guy right now and that's kinda what I was hoping he would do. Roach was that guy. Roach was our foundation on defense, especially. We're looking to replace that and I think Jamal's gonna step up and do that."

Overton's Eric Hatton leaps for an interception during Monday morning's two-a-day practice. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)