LYNCHBURG, Va. – The Heritage High School Pioneers are pretty much on the same page for the 2019 season.
They're turning the page and moving on from the 2018 Class 3 state championship they claimed last December.
"I'm thinking of last year. That was last year," senior Spencer Goolsby said. "You know, congrats to our seniors, but this is a new year and we just try to focus on what we got to do this year instead of last year."
He's right. It is a new year. The Pioneers lost their star quarterback and a handful of other playmakers. But head coach Brad Bradley is ready to see his team light it up.
"I mean, I think we have a lot coming back in terms of we have six back on offense and basically seven back on defense," Bradley said. "At the end of the day, last year was last year. Our program is at the point now where the seniors have come up, have learned from the past seniors. So far, I've been extremely pleased with our leadership, extremely pleased with our culture, our team culture, and now it's just a matter of, is that going to pay off on the football field."
Heritage will get a big test right off the bat when Vance High School out of Charlotte, North Carolina, plays them a visit on Friday night.
"[They're] a big Division 4, 2A, out of North Carolina. They were a runner-up last year in the highest division. They are ranked number 100 out of all of the teams in the United States of America so they're pretty daggone good," Bradley said.
But why schedule a team of that caliber from out of state?
"We could've done an easy team, but that wouldn't have made us a better team," Goolsby said. "We like competition."
With the 2018 championship in the rearview, Heritage still has leaders on the team who have been in tough games. So ready or not, Bradley knows he can depend on those guys.
"That's what's great about high school football. You don't get to go recruit. You plug in the guys you have, you work them to death from January to July, you rely on your culture," Bradley said. "You rely on your work ethic and rely on those kids to be leaders that have been around."