The Schalmont football team turned heads last year when it won its first Section II title and reached the Class B state semifinals.
Now the Sabres are hoping to do more this season, despite the graduation of leading rusher Vincent Gallo.
I think the guys have a chip on their shoulders since the Nanuet [state semifinal] game, said Schalmont coach Joe Whipple. "They've worked very hard since December."
Without Gallo guiding the offense, Schalmont will turn to a group of returning players including running backs Jaren Ramundo and Nick Reali, as well as wide receiver Alex Hildebrand.
"I think that it will be more of a team effort this year," said Whipple. "We'll be tough to defend because there isn't one guy that you can focus on stopping."
Schalmont begins its season Friday when it hosts Cohoes in a cross-divisional game.
Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk is at the opposite side of Schalmont's spectrum.
Last year was a rare down season for the Indians, as they missed the Section II playoffs for the first time in several years.
To turn things around, head coach Gary VanDerzee said his players went through a rigorous off-season workout to get ready for 2010.
"They've worked hard in the off-season, and they've gotten better," said VanDerzee. "They're working well as a team."
The Indians have a tough schedule ahead of them as they attempt to return to the top of the Reinfurt Division standings. They open with Cobleskill-Richmondville Friday in a non-division game before traveling to Johnstown in Week 2.
"I think it will be Hudson, Albany Academy and us [in our division]," said VanDerzee. "In the other division, it will be Schalmont, Cobleskill and Hudson Falls.""