The 2011 season won't go down as one of Sterlington's banner years as the No. 29-seed Panthers finished 4-7 and exited the playoffs in the first round.
But most of Sterlington's offense returns, and coach Mike Collins said the unit will be switching to a triple-option offense.
"We're running the ball inside a little better," Collins said of his offense's offseason improvement. "We've got (quarterback Taylor Lockwood), and running backs (Jaquarius Douglas) and (Jaylon Wade back) with most of our offensive line back.
"We want to try to evolve into a triple-option offense to put more pressure on defenses to be sound."
Collins said Lockwood is an athletic runner, and four players can stretch the field in the vertical passing game.
"Taylor has made tremendous strides, he's one of the strongest kids we have and he can fly running," Collins said. "We're fixing to have the biggest offensive line I've had as far as size.
"Our smallest guy is 6-foot-2, 220 pounds. Senior Zack Doolittle is anchoring the line."
The offense occasionally lit up the scoreboard in 2011, averaging more than 20 points per game.
But opposing teams consistently scored in bunches, and Collins said five players return from a defense that allowed 33 points per game.
In six of Sterlington's seven losses, opponents topped the 40-point mark.
"We didn't do anything well at any time on defense," Collins said. "We're trying to get a little better at each level.
"I want to see more up front from our guys."
Collins said Sterlington's defensive leaders will be linebacker Cody McGuire, defensive end R.J. Harrison and defensive back Trent Raffray.
Collins said a large group of upperclassmen that includes 12 seniors and 15 juniors should provide a solid footing for the 2012 season.
"Their strength has picked up, and they are more mature," Collins said. "Most have played since they were freshmen, and they've taken their beatings.
"But they've been in the bright lights a lot."
One player who could be in the brighter lights of college football is senior receiver Casey Sutton.
Sutton, who stands at 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds, is drawing looks from Division I schools, mostly in-state.
"If we have a guy that's D-I, it's him," Collins said. "He's physical in the run game and is a good route runner.
"He's not a burner, but he's not going to get caught too much either."
Sutton caught 24 passes for 335 yards and nine touchdowns as a junior.
The Panthers started 0-4 against Benton, Caldwell Parish, Ouachita Christian and Mangham before coming back against Oak Grove, and Collins said the team will face that schedule again.
Sterlington rallied for a playoff spot with a 3-2 mark in the new District 2-2A, but Collins said a faster start is needed.
"We want to play tougher teams to be ready," Collins said. "It's a very athletic district with Lakeside, Jonesboro-Hodge, Homer, Lake Providence and Ferriday."