CONKLIN, NY (WIVT/WBGH) – Heading into last year, the Susquehanna Valley Sabers were looking to find the same success they had found in the past, but it wasn’t meant to be.

This season, the team knows the work ethic needs to be there in order to reach their goals.

The Sabers are just a few seasons removed from back to back state titles.

After a 2021 season that saw the team deal with injuries sustained back in the pandemic delayed spring season just months prior, the Sabers are healthy going into 2022 and relying on their back to normal offseason to get them back to their prior success.

“Last fall we had some guys who were still banged up from the spring prior,” Head Coach Mike Ford said. “So now we have everyone healthy. Our offseason commitment was exceptional this summer, we had 45, 50 kids between JV and Varsity. Kids have bought back in and understand it’s a long process to get to the season and they bought in and we’ve been working hard for it.”

The hard work has been put in both on and off the field, the players have committed themselves to building team chemistry.

Something that they believe needs improvement from last season.

“I think our chemistry is a lot better than last year,” Junior Offensive Lineman Brayden Phillips said. “I think we’re playing as a team more. We’re not getting down on each other as hard as we were last year.”

The leaders of this Sabers squad are the the ones who initiated this commitment to team chemistry.

One of the ways that they are building this is through a team dinner each week.

“Us captains just came up with it,” Senior Running Back and Linebacker Adam Leonard said. “We decided to do it to build the team chemistry and just get tighter as a team.”

When it comes to how the team will look to improve in between the lines, the Sabers are turning towards their depth as a way to help them win more games this season.

“I think we have a lot more depth,” Ford said. “Last year we had around 22 guys, we have 33 this year. So the depth will help a lot, keep guys fresh on the field. We have a lot of versatile players who can play multiple positions. A lot more depth on the line than we had last year. So I think just keeping our guys fresh and healthy will be a big advantage this year that we haven’t had the last two seasons.”

One big part of that depth is made up of the returners from last season.

Ford admitted that there were a lot of young guys on the team last year, and the players feel that with so much returning talent that is being combined with the incoming players, the roster is in a strong spot.

“We have a lot of returning talent that we had last year,” Phillips said. “We have a lot of new talent coming up. I think we’re just gonna be ready.”

In terms of how the Sabers are going to be using that talent, Ford is relying on their versatility to create a well balanced attack.

“They’re pretty versatile, they can run, pass,” Ford said. “We’ve got a lot of different players we can plug and play different places. We have several good quarterbacks on the team so the versatility will be there, we won’t really be one dimensional on offense.”