With spring football in its fourth week for the Mansfield High School football team, coach Jeff Hulme said his players are making good progress and making him feel optimistic about the 2013 season.This comes as good news for a Tigers squad that lost 18 starters from last year's 7-5 team and is looking to remain competitive in one of the stronger football districts in the state.“We've had a great spring so far,” Hulme said. “This is our last week. The kids are learning and getting better. We've got a lot of youth out there because we have to replace some three-year veterans who have been out there the last couple of years, but it has been a good spring for us.”Mansfield returns two starters on offense and two on defense next season and what Hulme estimates to be about 15 returning letterman.The Mansfield coach said that his team has been working very hard this spring to try to determine who will play where next fall, or at least evaluate some strong candidates for those positions.“One of the biggest things that we are trying to do is figure out who can step up and who can't, because we have to replace nearly 20 starters,” Hulme said. “We've got a lot of young kids that are looking really good, but not a lot of them have played on Friday night, yet.“That's a big difference from the JV, so we are just really trying to put them in pressure situations. We scrimmage quite a bit and put point systems, with offense against defense to see who can handle the pressure a little bit, and the kids have responded very well.”Mansfield finished fourth in district competition in 2012 and won their bi-district game with Killeen before losing in the area round to Euless Trinity.The Tigers were also one of only two teams in district to defeat eventual state runner-up Cedar Hill, which the team did on Nov. 2 by a score of 27-20 on the road.Hulme said that in spite of losing so many players from last year's squad, he has already noticed a few things that have impressed him quite a bit about next year's team.“I have been very pleased, because we are actually stronger than we were last season,” Hulme said. “All round, I am pretty happy with where we are, because the guys are adjusting well.”Mansfield will wrap up spring football at the end of this week, and Hulme said the objectives for the final week are to continue to evaluate talent and depth and to realize that this is just the beginning of the journey toward the start of the 2013 campaign.“We want to finish it up, stay healthy, and let this sort of be a springboard to the summer,” Hulme said. “We need to have a good summer for our strength and conditioning to feel good about ourselves and what we have accomplished and be ready to go when August rolls around.” Check the News- Mirror in the coming weeks for coverage of spring football for all MISD high schools.