The Lions of St. Joseph Christian have gotten used to success at the 8-Man level.
"All three years, we've been really good. We've made state two years, undefeated last year," senior quarterback David Beard said. "Last year, we were undefeated up to the state final game. I'm so hungry to win it all this year, it's my final year."
But, that doesn't mean they're satisfied.
They've made five straight trips to the state semifinals with three births in the title game. But, they've yet to capture that elusive 8-Man championship.
"We took plays off last year in that state semifinal game, and that's what killed us in the end. You lose by a touchdown. Every play matters and we're making that known this year. We just have to go out and play our hearts out."
Now, the newest batch of upperclassmen are ready to accept the challenge of getting over the hump.
"We've been playing ball before school, after school, just getting our chemistry down," senior running back Justin Mays said. "I think that's helped a lot in the grand scheme of our senior year.:
"We definitely have the potential to score," head coach Mark Juhl said. "You've got Mays, who's really fast. He can catch the ball, he can run the ball. Of course, David is a very experienced quarterback now. He's been in that spot for two years."
It's that senior leadership that Juhl is depending on to carry his team through another deep playoff run.
"We don't have seniors that are going to talk down to the underclassmen or push them around. They just embrace them and treat them with the respect they deserve. I'm just really impressed with that."
The Lions are well aware that the road to their championship runs through schools like Mound City and Worth County, but are more than confident that this could be their year.
"We want to prove that we're the best. Beating one of those teams, that proves that we're the best," Beard said. "Last year, Mound City got the best of us, and they did good. Worth County's got a dang good team and we're going to be ready to play against them. We want it this year and I think all the guys are going to be ready to play some football."
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