VESTAL, N.Y. (WIVT/WBGH) – The Vestal Golden Bears enter the 2023 season with a simple goal in mind, take home the section IV title.

“I think it’s definitely go back to the sectional championship, then probably take it home,” Senior Quarterback Cam Schaffer said. “We were right there last year, but just couldn’t finish so, that’s gotta be the goal this year.”

The section championship loss was to their rivals, the Union-Endicott Tigers, the same team who ended their season the year prior.

After leading at the half, but seeing the lead disappear, the loss in the championship game has driven the team throughout the offseason.

“I think it motivated everyone to get on the turf and work,” Senior Running Back and Safety Liam Nealy said. “Get to the weight room and work more, I think it’s brought us closer together to work harder together.”

One reason the motivation has been a driving force is the amount of returning players to the team.

Vestal enters 2023 with plenty of experienced players in key positions.

“Having that type of experience out there on the field, it makes your job a little easier in some respects,” Head Coach Jim Crunden said. “Because you know you got some confident kids who are comfortable being out there.”

Many of the returners are a part of a senior class made up of over 20 players.

For those who are entering their final year in a Golden Bears uniform, there’s a sense of urgency to win now.

“I think so,” Schaffer said. “Everyone’s kinda angry, sad from last year, we’re just kinda trying to get back to where we were and just be better than we were last year because this is it.”