PITTSFIELD, IL. (WGEM) -- Seven straight losing seasons has Pittsfield with a sense of enough is enough.
"I want to come out and surprise some people," senior Noah Mendenhall said.
"I feel how hard we're working should pay off. We've been working extremely hard all summer."
According to senior James Gwartney, "I want us to be better than we have been. I want us to look more in control. I want us to have a good season and let's see what we can do."
Mendenhall returns under center and it's his leadership the Saukees will lean on heavily following the graduation of leading rushers, Korbyn Personett and Austin Motley.
"We all know what were doing," senior Derek Neupauer explained.
"We're hard workers (and) I think our backfield is something to look out for this year, and I'm really excited about our front five."
Saukees head coach Curt Simonson added, "We have four (running) backs in essence. They've all had playing time. They all know how the game is played (and) they know what to do. But we also have the ability to throw the ball and we have some very good receivers."
Simonson indicates injuries were a blessing and a curse last season.
The blessing came in the form of several players getting on the field sooner than originally thought.
"The by-product of that is we return several lettermen, people with experience, and people that have played," Simonson said. "That's a key for us."
And while the defense looks to improve on giving up 45 points a game on average this year's group of Saukees are confident they can turn the corner as a whole.
"Every single Friday we're going to step out on that field and we're just going to give it our all, everything we got," Neupauer said.
"We're going to show some pride and I'm looking forward to every single game. We don't really have a whole bunch of expectations. We're expecting to work hard and we're expecting to do what we need to do."
Mendenhall says playing better collectively is crucial.
"We've really been focusing on being a team (and) coming together as a team," he said.
?"Being an individual is kind of what we struggled with (last season). The camaraderie is really what we've been working on."