PEMBERVILLE, OH (WTOL) - Eastwood is coming off of their first losing season since 1999. But now that their young talent has a year under their belt, the Eagles are picked to be a top contender in the Northern Buckeye Conference.
"We expect to win," said Jerry Rutherford, Eastwood head coach. "We played a lot of sophomores last year, they're juniors now, and they make up the majority of the team. Our focus right now is just get better every day, try to get better every day."
Coach Rutherford says they're looking to get back to the playoffs for the third time in four years.
"Some of these guys have played in the playoffs and we want to get back to that. That's what we want," Rutherford said.
Some key players returning to the offense are junior quarterback Jake Pickerel and fellow junior wide receiver and running back Cade Boos.
The All-Conference player says the year of experience should pay dividends this year and having a target on their back as a conference favorite makes them push even more.
"We like having the target on our back I think," said Boos. "It makes us work a little harder cause everybody's like looking for us and everybody's experienced now, so they know how it's going to go and stuff, and when it's clutch time and stuff, something needs to happen, then we'll get the job done."
For senior Tyler Tudor, he says the off-season work and the unity of this year's squad will be the difference maker.
"I'm going to have to say this year honestly is probably unity," said Tudor. "I think we're really working together, we've been getting after it, we're pretty strong I'd have to say in the weight room too."
Eastwood opens up their season at home against Start.