When you hear Petrolia coach Byron Gravitt talk about his team, a theme starts to emerge:
"We're all excited," Gravitt says. "Coaches are excited, the thing I like about this year, it seems like the kids are really excited."
Gravitt and his Pirates are definitely excited to finally be back on the field, getting ready for their season opener that is just about a month away.
The team returns seven starters on offense, and nine on defense, and will look to build upon last year's 3-7 record.
The learning curve won't be as steep this year, with Gravitt returning for a second-straight season as head coach.
"Having the same coach for two years now is pretty good," said senior running back Tanner Welch. "We haven't had a coach stick around for long enough to be use to stuff."
"I'm pretty comfortable with Coach Gravitt," agreed senior quarterback Dustin Hanusch. "He's a great guy, great coach, just a great person to be around."
"I think we're building, continuing to build," Gravitt said this week. "I saw lots of strides last year as far as work ethic, discipline, character, and we're going to continue on those things."
A new year means new opportunity for this veteran Pirate team. They hope to make some noise in District 8-A Division II this year, and they plan on making a run into the playoffs for the first time since 2009.
"I'm hoping to go a couple of rounds deep," Hanusch said. "Have a winning record, winning district record, and see if we can't do something in the playoffs."
"[I'm] pretty excited about this year," Welch said. "In the past, we haven't had very good seasons, but this year, I have a feeling we're going to set it off."
"With the players we have, we're pretty good in certain spots," Gravitt says. "I think that if we're overlooked, that may not necessarily be a bad thing. I think we've got a pretty good football team."
Experience is key for many successful programs, and with another year of experience under their belt, this Pirate team is hoping they are ready to take the next step.
"I think if we can reach our potential, and do the things we are capable of doing, I think it could be a season we haven't had around here in a while," coach Gravitt said.