KINGDOM CITY - The North Callaway Thunderbirds football team has a reasonably-fresh frame of reference to draw from as it sets out down the path of the state's new playoff system.
North Callaway was scuffling with a 1-4 record at the midway point of the 2011 regular season before it corrected its course and reeled off five wins in a row. The surge carried the Thunderbirds into the postseason and produced two more victories, before North Callaway bowed to School of the Osage in the Class 3 quarterfinals.
That strong finish established promising projections for the Thunderbirds in the 2012 season as they moved back down to Class 2 and were ranked No. 8 in the preseason state poll. However, North Callaway's rosy outlook took a hit at the outset with losses to South Callaway and Tipton.
To their credit, the Thunderbirds have answered again with seven straight wins as they get set to host Hermann tonight (kickoff at 7) in the District 6 opener. North Callaway (7-2) is the third seed and the Bearcats (4-5) are the sixth.