The Cougars dropped the sectional final to Monrovia 7-6 after allowing a touchdown late in the fourth quarter. It's something that has motivated the team all summer.
Head coach Greg Barrett is entering his third season with the Cougars and has liked what he's seen so far out of his squad.
"(They've looked) Really good," he said. "We've had some great leadership stepping up -- a nucleus of guys that played a bunch last year and we've got a lot of returning starters. These guys know what it takes to be successful; they know what it feels like to be successful. I think there's a little bit of a bad taste in our mouth with the way last year ended and they're hoping to take that next step -- whether that's win a sectional championship or win the conference back.
"They've got a lot of goals out there that they would like to set for themselves. They've been doing all the right things all summer long and they've definitely put the time and effort in," Barrett said.
Barrett also stated that it didn't take the team long to get into the frame of mind for the current season. When asked about his team's mindset entering practice, the coach stated it began long before that.
"They've been fired up since the beginning of summer," he said grinning. "It's nice when you have to pull back the reins on guys sometimes because they want to get at it so fast and furious. It's a good feeling to know you can do that and say, 'Alright, slow it down a little bit here,' so it's been a lot of business -- a business-like atmosphere when they step on that football field.
"They know when it's time to have fun and when it's time to not have fun, because this whole experience has been... we want them to take things they learn in football and use those in their everyday life skills and that's kind of what's helped these guys mold as leaders I think. They know what it takes to get the job done," he said.
Barrett said that even when he tells his team to take some time off, the players are just itching to get back into action.
An added plus for the Cougars this season is the return on nine offensive and seven defensive starters. Also, they currently have 21 freshmen on the squad so the future of the program is looking bright.
The Cougar coach is looking for some good things from many players including Hank Spencer, Nate Bryan, Jordan Murphy and Caleb and Aaron Vondersaar. He also had some nice things to say about his returning quarterback.
"Of course Kolten Everts returning as quarterback. He's done all the right things this summer. He's bigger, he's faster and stronger and he's much better at decision-making. He showed that improvement last year as a sophomore," Barrett said.
With a nice nucleus of talent spanning all grades, Barrett feels fortunate to have the chance to do things other times might not have the ability to do.
"We have several guys that we can plug in different spots and give guys rests and opportunity and have a breather. So I'd like to say we've got a lot of depth. We've got a nice freshmen class," Barrett commented.
Looking forward to the season, for Barrett and the Cougars, adding one or two wins beyond last year's total is their aim. They've talked about more lofty goals.
Asked what their gameplan for the season was, Barrett explained it in the simplest terms possible.
"It's throttle down and full go," he said smiling. "We're definitely taking it game-by-game, but we know where we want to end up. Fifteen games is a magical season and we talk about things like that quite a bit without taking our focus off the next opponent."