Last season the Central Lee Hawks produced their best season in program history while ultimately falling in the second round of the playoffs. But, it's the memories of last season that have the Hawks committed in 2016.
"This whole summer and off season it kept me up at night and it just really fueled us to work harder for this year," said senior lineman Dakota Oberman of last year's playoff loss.
The Hawks return just eight starters from last season but fall far from short when it comes to their size. One look at their defensive front and it is clear to see the Hawks posses a defense that, after giving up fewer than 15 points per game last season, will look to suffocate opposing backfields.
"Last year we had one of the best defenses in the sate for rushing yards allowed," said Oberman.
"Hopefully we can bring that back this year."
On offense, Central Lee is tasked with replacing a backfield that ran rampant last season. The Hawks, however, feel like this year's stable of backs won't skip a beat.
"Our backs are just super quick," said senior quarterback and safety Chase Tennant.
"We don't have the size that (Ethan) Barnett had last year at fullback but we have some pretty quick guys that can make some pretty quick cuts."
Central Lee's running backs have the speed they need but lack much experience. That still doesn't worry head coach J.R. Hofman.
"They don't have the experience that those four did last year but I think that they have just as good of speed and that experience will come," said Hofman.
That speed doesn't stop at the line of scrimmage. The Hawks feel they can seriously fly with a group of speedy defensive backs that are now more conditioned to handle the hurry-up offense that sent them packing in 2015.
"We've been conditioning a lot more," said senior quarterback and corner back Blake Burgess. "I don't think we were in shape for the hurry up offense but I think we are this year."
With speed to spare, the Hawks hit the ground running and open their season against neighboring Keokuk and Fort Madison in the first two weeks.