Even after playing in the last five Class 1A state championships and winning the last two, the hunger is still there for the Mayfield football team.
Only three defensive and three offensive starters return to a Cardinals team that went 14-1 last year, but head coach Joe Morris said the team has all intentions to be back in Bowling Green in December to compete for another title.
"The kids have a great attitude right now," Morris said. "They have a taste of winning, being in the championship game five years in a row, and they want to go back. Sometimes you worry about complacency, but I don't see that so that's a good thing."
The graduation of 18 seniors has led to a slew of new starters, including at quarterback where sophomore Landon Arnett is set to take the reigns.
Competition battles with three-plus weeks until Mayfield's season begins include spots at linebacker and receiver.
"We have a lot of competition in a lot of spots. We have six linebackers vying for those three spots," Morris said. "And at receiver we have developed a lot of depth we didn't know we had."
Morris also said the offensive line will be a work in progress, as just one starter returns from a team whose 42.4 points per game last year was aided in large part by its line.
With a schedule that will pit the Cardinals against 6A schools McCracken County and Marshall County, 5A Graves County and 3A Paducah Tilghman, it's imperative that the Cardinals build their depth and stay conditioned, Morris said.
"Those teams will have more players than us and more depth, so we need to be ready for that," Morris said. "And we're still making those mistakes - bobbled snaps and missed assignments. That's what we have to cut down on."
Mayfield may have a bull's-eye on its chest as the team to beat in Class 1A and western Kentucky, but Morris expects his team to be ready for the challenge when it begins the season Aug. 22 against Fort Campbell.
"We stress all year about how everyone will be gunning for us," Morris said. "Are we going to be as good as we have been the past few years? I don't know, but our goal is always to win state and that remains the same this year."
Call Mike Stunson, a Sun sports writer, at 270-575-8662