Sweet Home, Ore. -- Despite winning their league in 2018, Sweet Home found a successful season bittersweet due to an early playoff exit against Marist.
"Most people were happy with the league champs, some people were mad," recalls senior Iokana Howerton. "I wasn't too happy about it because we lost in the first round and I'm not a big fan of losing and so that lit a fire under a lot of us for this year."
It's that kind of mindset to not settle following a 6-4 season, coupled with a desire to leave a unique legacy, that made Sweet Home's upperclassmen work that much harder in the offseason.
"A lot of these seniors that felt they should be starting this year," says Sweet Home head coach Dustin Nichol. "So they're coming in with a little bit of attitude and something they want to prove. Because so far they've been a complimentary type group to someone in front of them."
Despite graduating some star players and losing others to different sports, the Huskies have plenty of weapons.
"We got a new quarterback stepping up, gonna be a junior," senior Travis Thorpe says. "Got a good ball, got a good arm, everything else. Got speed so we can hit him. Linemen, linebacker, Iakona over here is gonna be making a lot of tackles and blocking a lot of good guys."
And complimenting the 2020 class is a solid junior group that some players call one of the most athletic to come through SHHS in some time.
"I've been practicing with them, playing with them my whole life, they're the same age as me," says junior quarterback Aiden Tyler. "And they do, we do have a lot of depth with 15 seniors, we probably got that many juniors, if not more. It's nice. We're gonna be deep."
Which will come in handy for a stacked non-league schedule.
"If we wanna play at that next level and be a top 10, top 4 team then we need to see what those are like," Nichol mentions. "...And if we don't get that litmus test in the preseason going into league then hopefully this will get us to step up our game going into league.
It starts with the team that bounced them from the playoffs last year: the Marist Spartans.