DEFIANCE, OH (WTOL) - Defiance went 3-7 in 2016 under first year head coach Kevin Kline. In 2015 before Kline, Defiance won only two games.
While a one game improvement does not seem like much, players say this year is beginning of something special.
"We're definitely ahead of where we were last year," senior Eddie Stiles said. "A new playbook, everything, on defense, we're just way ahead, but we're still not where we need to be and we need to work hard to get there."
"I think having the second year here has helped quite a bit," Coach Kline said. "Kids seem to be a lot more familiar with the terminology and what we're trying to do and what we're trying to accomplish. I think progressively, we're ahead of where we were a year ago, for sure."
One key camp battle to watch is at the quarterback position.
Javen Newton was the starter a year ago but he's being pressed hard by the coaches son Caden Kline. Whoever does not win the battle has the versatility to spread out and play receiver.
"Both of them bring some different things to the table," Coach Kline said. "To be honest with you, we feel pretty comfortable with either one of them. That's been a really good thing this year, both of them can come in and run
"I think this summer we've really come out and put in a lot of work," Newton said. "I think all of our efforts are towards Napoleon. Whether I'm playing quarterback or receiver, I just want to win."
It's that selfless attitude that has Defiance feeling good. The team put the work in trying to improve on a few down years.
"We want it so badly," Newton said. "We've really put the work in this summer. I think we've got a lot of really strong guys out here that really want to make a change."
"We've been working hard through the summer workouts," Stiles added. "We've just been thinking about the past few years and we're just grinding hard so we can beat Napoleon and have a good season."
The Bulldogs kick off their season on August 24 in the River Rock Rivalry against Napoleon.