It is never an easy task to replace a player who rushed for 2,000 yards the season before, but the Buckingham Knights are hoping a few key returners will help them do that.
In 2013, the Knights were led by senior running back Kenneth Johnson. They finished 10-4 and made it all the way to the state semifinals, but their run at a title was cut short by a 27-0 loss to Brunswick.
"I look back like what a great season we had, but then I think about that too," junior quarterback Leon Ragland says of the loss to Brunswick. "I think we could've played a lot better in that game."
With a new season coming, the Knights aren't thinking too much about last year.
"2013 is over," said head coach Craig Gill. "It's a new day. We're 0-0. On paper we're supposed to be good, but like I told them we don't play on paper, we play on grass."
Even though the team has moved on, the playoff run and loss to Brunswick are still motivating factors in Buckingham. According to Ragland, it was enough to push the whole team to put in some extra work in the offseason.
"We're trying to make it further than we did last year," he says. "The boys have been in the weight room all summer, trying to get right."
"If it's like the past years where the kids put a lot of time in in the offseason and in the summer, you usually have a pretty good year," added Gill. "We're looking to have a pretty good year. We have a lot of tradition here."
For a team that's made the playoffs in each of the last five years, the postseason is always the goal. Now the Knights have had a taste of states, and they want to go back for more in 2014.
"Our main goal is to win the James River District and you know, go to states and win it all," Ragland said.
"We want to go to the playoffs and try to make a run," Gill said. "We've got a tough district with Goochland, Nottoway, Prince Edward, Central Lunenburg, all of them are playoff teams. We've just got to hold on, get better every week, and play hard."