(SAVANNAH, Mo.) Savannah rolled into districts with one loss just a season ago, but Smithville handled them 49-21 in the second round to end the Savages season. Now with some new faces leading the charge, Savannah's hoping to return to the top of the MEC in 2013.
The Savages have reeled off five consecutive winnings seasons, and they embrace the pressure that comes with the territory.
"We all live for this. Football's a big deal in this town," senior Jake Humphrey said. "And it's just great to be out here; senior year back with my friends."
The 2013 Savage football team will need a new group of leaders to emerge in order to have success. Savannah's won 21 games in the last two seasons combine behind guys like Blake McFadden, Blake Deal and Zane and Tyler Wilt.
"We feel we're at a position where we're just building tradition," second year head coach Chad Smith said. "Every year we're looking for guys to step up, and we're all about the team. Nobody is good without the team, and that's what we've got our kids buying into."
And this year's team has bought into what Smith and the coaching staff are preaching more than most.
"Our grade and our team has always gelled together. No superstars. We just win games," Humphrey said. "That's kind of the whole point of it, and I feel like that's what we're going to be and I'm totally fine with that."
"The past couple years we've lost real good players," senior Dalton Duane said. "Last year we had a lot of returning starters. This year we have a few too. I'm kind of excited to see how this year goes. I think we're ready."
Duane takes the reins at quarterback this year, and is setting the tone at practice.
"You know he's kind of been challenged this year to step up with his leadership, his toughness and so far he's done a great job for us," Smith said.
But Duane won't be expected to carry this team through the air. The Savages plan to lean on their running game throughout the season.
"That's one of our main goals to establish a good running game this year," Smith said. "Hopefully that opens up more of an offense for us.
After a disappointing end in districts last season, the Savages are hoping to make things right in 2013.
"Our coaches have been talking about how we don't want to end up like last year," Duane said. "We want to strive forward. We want to work our butts off in the summer so we can get farther and farther."