Virginia Silverbacks owner Jamie Davis is a little worried about how high his football team set the bar in 2011.
"It's kind of tough to build off that, because we can't lose more than three games now," Davis, also the team's quarterback, said with a smile on Thursday. "We set the stakes high for ourselves."
The Silverbacks went 7-3 in 2011, the team's first season in the semi-pro Mason Dixon Football League. On Thursday, Davis was among 60 players on the practice field at Charlottesville High School, preparing for the upcoming 2012 season.
The Silverbacks' regular season doesn't begin until early July, but the team has a preseason game scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday at CHS, and another for next weekend at Albemarle High School.
Players actually started conditioning work for the upcoming season last November, according to Davis. Lineman Damyn Ransom says the players enjoy the opportunity the Silverbacks provide to get back on the field.
"I think it's very big," Ransom said. "You always have that itch, and before your body breaks down you want to get out there and see if you've still got it. People love the game, so that's why we're out here."
Ransom, who played college football at the University of Pittsburgh, described the level of play in the Mason Dixon League as "a mixed bag."
"There's some Division III and Division II guys," he said. "There's some guys who played at UVa here. There's other guys who played at other schools. Some guys got cut from the NFL and CFL."
"These guys are pretty good athletes," said Randy Jones, who is back for a second season as the Silverbacks' head coach. "And I look forward to coaching them; I feel like I'm lucky to be coaching them. Because you've got about 60 great guys out here."
That includes Davis, who turned 44 years old last week. The CHS graduate has had pro stints in places like Switzerland and Spain, and last year he came out of "retirement" to play for the fledgling Silverbacks.
On Thursday, he said the upcoming 2012 season would be his last, adding, "I'm sure this time."
"I don't know. I just got that itch one more time, man," he explained. "It's hard to stop, because I think if I'll stop I'm going to get real bored. As long as I can do it, I want to do it."