Last year the Holliday Eagles suffered their worst season since 1955, going 2-8 in Frank Johnson's first year.
Johnson was blunt about 2013: "It did not go the way we wanted it, at all."
"Oh, it was terrible," agreed senior Bailey Broyles. "It was heartbreaking. We were so pumped, and fell apart. We really let down our fans, parents, everyone."
"It was definitely a shocker," said fellow senior Tyler Martindale. "I mean, it was disappointing but I feel like for this year, it's a big motivator."
One big challenge for the Eagles last year was adjusting to Coach Johnson's read-and-react defensive style, which was completely different from the aggressive style they'd run for years under coaches Terry Wolf and Cody Patton.
It led to them spending too much time in games figuring out what to do, rather than just doing it.
"Last year, we thought too much," Johnson said. "We worried about screwing up, as opposed to playing. I'm hoping we can just play this year."
"Last year was brand-new and we didn't really understand it as well," said Broyles, who plays linebacker on defense. "This year we have a whole year under our belt. We've adjusted a little bit more to the new reads and the new plays we have."
Offensively, junior Levi Draper is back under center after splitting time last year with Matt Tigert, who will move to receiver this season.
His coach and teammates think the extra year of experience will give Draper a big edge entering this season.
"Levi's doing a good job," Johnson said. "He's a junior, he's got four or five games underneath his belt as a starter, so I'm hoping that will pay off."
"He's a lot stronger passing," Broyles said. "He's a lot more comfortable in the pocket and running also."
"You know, he's matured a lot," said Martindale, one of Draper's wide receivers. "We had 7-on-7 this summer, and that's really helped him out. He's been in the weight room, gotten stronger. He's gotten to know us a lot better, gotten to know the routes a lot better, so you know he's come out and he's ready to go."
The Eagles have a tall task to open the season, hosting the two-time defending 1A (now 2A) Division I State Champion Stamford Bulldogs at Eagle Stadium on August 29th.