Tioga Center, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Last year they ran through Class D, all the way to the state semi-finals. The Tioga Tigers fell a point short of making it to the Carrier Dome last year. They lost their top running back from last season, but return several talented players with experience on both sides of the ball, giving them hope that this year their season will end in Syracuse.
The Tioga Tigers can still taste the bitterness of a 1 point loss that ended their season in 2012.
And that is driving them to be that much better this season.
"Just remember the losses and that's the worst feeling you can go through, knowing you're so close to something you've worked so hard for. That you've wanted for so long and 30-40 guys have come together to try to accomplish it. You don't want to let each other down," says lineman Carter Jackson.
The Tioga Tigers will be tested early and often this season.
In a new look Class D, the Tigers will have to get by division opponents Sidney and Harpursville.
"I think Class D is real strong. We have a lot of teams in Section 4 with Sidney coming down that makes it a little bit stronger but Unatego has put together a couple good years. Walton is always tough, Delhi's always tough. You look at this side, Groton's in the mix," says head coach Nick Aiello.
This year's Tigers team is led by a great deal of seniors and players with 3 years of varsity experience.
But to make it back to the state playoffs, they'll have to overcome the loss of leading rusher and Sports Overtime Class D offensive MVP, Tyler Spires, who graduated.
Tioga returns plenty of talent at the skill positions with running backs Jesse Manuel and Brad Jump and quarterback Ryan Vergason under center.
And has a few new players that are getting the coaches attention.
"He gave his body, he gave his soul to this team and all we can do it play with a little Tyler in each and every one of us," Jackson says.
"We've got the numbers to replace him. There's obviously no replacing him but we're going to do our best and everybody's going to work hard and do their jobs and we're going to try to do what we know how to do," says center Jake Howland.
Tioga's first test of the season will be when they host Chenango Forks in week 2.