Holland Patent, N.Y. - It was a magical season for Holland Patent last year, going 10-1 and winning the program's first section title in 29 years, but that's in the past according to this year's returning players.
That's not to say that they aren't still thrilled at what they were able to accomplish, or that they don't appreciate the journey they had, but they are simply ready to focus on this year and what they still hope to accomplish.
"We want to be a new team this year and we want to make our own statement," said senior QB Jared Harter. "We've got to do a lot of work. There's a lot from last year that we're losing and we've got to do a lot of work to make that up."
The Golden Knights lost 18 seniors to graduation this past season, but still have a lot of experience coming back, especially on the offensive and defensive line.
Many of the returning players are those who watched last year's senior class take the reigns en route to a championship season. Now, it's their turn.
"We've got a great vibe out here, everyone is all pumped up and everything," said senior OL/OL Andrew LaRock. "We're just excited to show that last year wasn't just a one time thing, so we're out here trying to work as hard as we can to get back up."
An added element to this season is the completion of the new turf field at Holland Patent High School. Last year, the Knights had to split home games between RFA Stadium and Ed Wadas Athletic Complex at Whitesboro High School.
The team is excited to get back to having true home games this season, especially since they will host Friday night games for the first time.
"We did enjoy playing last year on the turf at Whitesboro and RFA, but now we're home," said head coach Brian Briggs. "It's exciting, I think we're going to have a lot of people from the community here watching our home games on Friday nights."
Despite the roster turnover, the team expects a lot out of themselves. They want to establish a winning culture and they are highly motivated to replicate last year's success.
"Our sign says the 'roster has changed, but the expectations are still the same,'" said Briggs. "We keep telling the kids, last year was a different story. Last year, we won a section title, but it doesn't mean you're going to win it this year. You've got to go out there and you've got to work hard, and you've got to strive for the best."
The Golden Knights begin their section title defense on the new turf at the high school against Skaneateles on Friday, September 6.