IOLA, Wis. (WSAW) -- There's a lot of like talk obviously," said Iola-Scandinavia senior running back and linebacker Cole Erdman.
"We got a target on our back," said Iola-Scandinavia senior running back and linebacker Eddie Bonikowske.
When you finish off a 14-0 season with your first state championship in school history like the Iola-Scandinavia Thunderbirds did last year, you better believe there will be talk, and you better believe that target will be bigger than ever.
"There's a lot of pressure on our backs," said Erdman. "A bunch of talk about how we lost a bunch of guys, but we know for sure that we can come back out and do the same thing that we did last year."
As the Thunderbirds go from the hunters to the hunted, they'll do so without the state's all-time leading rusher, Bryce Huettner, who graduated and leaves a void in the Iola-Scan offense.
"When you have one guy of that caliber that Bryce was last year, you build everything you do around him," said Iola-Scandinavia head coach Scott Erickson. "We'll probably be way more balanced this year. We knew other teams were going to key on him, and other things open up because of that."
A huge part of that more balanced attack will be senior receiver Will Cady, who averaged more than 30 yards a catch last season and had nine of his 18 receptions go for touchdowns.
"We've been putting in more pass plays," said Iola Scandinavia senior wide receiver Will Cady. "More plays to get me involved instead of just running the ball. Moving me into different spots, and trying to get me in the best position to get the ball."
"He's a big play guy," said Erickson.
The mantra around camp has been "Yesterday is the past. Today is the future. Do the work." A reminder that last season's state title guarantees nothing this year.
"We celebrated that last year," said Bonikowske. "We've got to focus on this year and get better."
But anyone who wants to knock the Division 6 kings off the throne better, bring their A-game because the Thunderbirds are hungry for more.
"You know seeing that gold trophy and seeing coach hold it up, we really want to give it to him again this year," said Iola-Scandinavia senior offensive lineman Tayler Ambrosius.