TOWN OF CHENANGO (WBNG) -- Football preseason began Monday across the Southern Tier.
The last time Chenango Forks played, the team won a Class B state title. Fifteen months later, the Blue Devils are back together.
"It's so different, but it's awesome," said coach Dave Hogan. "Just the energy with these kids, being out here the first day, it's great."
This season, the Section IV powerhouse won't get the chance to defend its state title, but the winning standard hasn't changed.
"We still want to go out there and compete," said senior quarterback Ray Austin. "We still want to do the same thing we're doing every single year. It's not different even though there's no playoffs or anything."
Austin is gearing up for his second and final season as the Blue Devils quarterback.
With his recent announcement that he will be continuing his football career at Ithaca College, leadership is on his mind this season.
"I just want to be a good teammate, a good leader for the younger guys," he said. "I just want to set an example what this program's all about and what we can do as a team."
Along with offensive weapon Lucas Scott, the two seniors are making the most of the six-game season.
"We're going to play and practice like we're playing for a state title. I think if we go 6-0 and we beat SV (Susquehanna Valley) who's second in the state right now, I'll count it as a state championship," said Scott.
With the move down to Class C this season, Forks will face some unfamiliar opponents.
The six-game schedule features games against old division rivals, Chenango Valley and Norwich. It also brings along new competition, including Windsor, Susquehanna Valley, Vestal and Binghamton.
"A lot of schools we've never played before," said senior Ryan Joseph. "We have Vestal, Binghamton's on there, SV. A lot of new people we haven't played, I mean it's a new schedule, a fresh start so I'm excited for that."
"It's always good to see new faces and it's going to be different because we're going to be scouting new offenses and playing new defenses, so it's definitely going to be a change but we're all ready for it," added Scott.
This season is unlike any football season the Blue Devils have played, but the team's mindset remains the same.
"We're always trying to get better," said Hogan. "We're going to try to do that day by day and week by week, and just enjoy the eight weeks we're going to be together."
Forks opens the season at Chenango Valley Friday, March 19 at 6:30 p.m.