WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) -- Last season the Stratford Tigers were just four points away from winning a golden ball.
"I think every year it's a dream to get down to Madison and it was one of our goals to get there," Stratford Tigers Head Coach Jason Tubbs said.
Some even doubted that the Tigers would even make it as far as they did.
"Nobody really expected us to be even be close in the game, and we had opportunities to win the game," Tubbs added.
"I don't think that anyone expected us to go to state or to even be in the game," Tigers Left Tackle Ben Barten said.
Even though the Stratford proved their doubters wrong just by their appearance in the game, that was not enough for the team.
"I couldn't lose again in that game, it was so heartbreaking last year," Barten explained.
Such a tough loss would set some teams back. But Stratford is using the loss to fuel them this season.
"I think that has set the die on this season because these players have really come in hungry," Tubbs said.
"We all felt it. We felt defeated last year but now we feel that much hungrier to get back to it," Barten added.
The Tigers have the advantage of returning 20 seniors this season. Like Wisconsin commit and Left Tackle Ben Barten. So majority of the varsity roster knows what it takes to get to the championship game.
"Now that we know what it takes to get there, this year we're expecting to finally punch it through," Barten explained.
"Knowing what it takes to get there and trying to find a way to get it over the top. Giving our guys credit for the offseason it's really starting to show us a football team that we expect," Tubbs added.