It might not compare to the St. Louis Cardinals’ Super Bowl rags-to-riches’ tale in the late 1990s.

And it might be a stretch to say it was similar to the Boston Celtics’ stunning 42-game turnaround in the late 2000s.

But the Tallmadge boys golf team made quite a turnaround last fall.

The Blue Devils finished 7-3 overall and 3-3 in the Suburban League American Conference in 2017.

Such records may be modest in the grand scheme of things. However, considering where Tallmadge was two years ago, those marks are giant steps for a team that has had much success over the years.

Case in point: The Blue Devils finished a woeful 3-9 overall and 1-5 in the conference in 2016.

It’s a safe bet such dark days won’t be around again anytime soon.

"We became competitive again last season after a rough 2016 campaign," said 16th-year head coach Jon Shomo, who is 103-53 at Tallmadge. "We look to build on that with a good bit of experience returning."

The Blue Devils’ lone graduation loss was Jake Kanatzar. Nonetheless, Tallmadge has five returning letter winners back in the mix.

"Our guys have the potential for a very good year," Shomo said. "They are a pretty tight-knit group and enjoy being out on the course together."

The Blue Devils’ top player last year was Darin Hudak. The standout sophomore recently won the Good Park Junior Tournament in Akron and was a first-team American Conference choice last season. He also received honorable mention on the Division I all-district team.

"As a returning first-team all-conference player, Darin certainly is already one of the best in the league," Shomo said. "The win at Good Park is something that certainly makes the junior and high school golf world sit up and take notice.

"The key will be his ability to focus on one shot at a time. That's how you realize your potential."

Another key returnee is senior Noah Bowser, who was the team’s second-leading scorer for much of last fall. Bowser received honorable mention to the 2017 American Conference team and has a chance to make some history this fall.

"Noah is going to achieve a rare distinction; he'll leave the program with four letters," Shomo said. "He has grown in maturity, especially in the last year or so. He's showing more consistency in his game this summer, which is very important for us."

The other returning letter winners are seniors Brandon Gray, Liam Tokash and Jake Reifsnyder.

"Brandon is a very good student," Shomo said. "He is often a bit too hard on himself on the course, but he is very well liked by his teammates.

"Liam is a leader — a class officer. He has only played the game for a little over two years and has made great progress.

"Jake has a unique personality. He has been a key player on the baseball team and has experienced that great run these last couple of seasons."

The junior varsity coach is Jon Karnuth, who enters his eighth year at Tallmadge.

The Blue Devils’ top five is set, thanks to their talented senior quartet and sophomore sensation. Tallmadge’s main goal will be finding a consistent No. 6 player.

"We would like to find a reliable sixth man and we’ll probably rotate two or three different guys into that spot early," Shomo said. "It should be very competitive and exciting."

Highland is the defending champion in the American Conference. However, the Hornets, who were a juggernaut last season, aren’t quite as formidable this season.

"Our side of the conference is very balanced and tough," Shomo said. "Defending champion Highland lost quite a few seniors, but will reload.

"Aurora and Kent Roosevelt will be strong, while Copley and Revere will be very competitive as well. Barberton has a couple of good players returning and may be tough at home.

The Blue Devils are scheduled to make their 2018 debut at the Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy Invitational Monday at Silver Lake Country Club. Play is set to begin at 8:45 a.m.

Tallmadge is scheduled to compete at the Suburban League preseason tournament Aug. 9 at Good Park Golf Course. Play is set to begin at 8:30 a.m.

"The first Suburban League tournament will set the stage for which teams will be serious contenders for the conference title," Shomo said.

Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, or @FrankAceto_RPC.