TOWN OF CHENANGO (WBNG) - The Chenango Forks Blue Devils fell just short of a fourth consecutive state championship in 2016, losing in heartbreaking fashion to Glens Falls in the state championship game. It's a long road back to the Dome but this year's group of Blue Devils is ready to start the journey.
"The first thing everyone said after the loss was, 'we will be back,'" said Chenango Forks senior cornerback/quarterback Sean Wiser.
47-39. Not a score the Blue Devils want to remember, but one the team can use as fuel for this season.
"The kids have been pretty motivated all season and really eager to get started," said Chenango Forks head coach Dave Hogan.
Here's another number, 33. The Blue Devils will have to replace L.J. Watson, the Class B co-Player of the Year, who graduated.
"The kids are hearing it," said Hogan. "'We lost a lot of good players from last year,' and we certainly have. But, we feel we have a lot of good players here too. (They) have a long way to go, but they also know that and are working hard to become the best players they can be."
Jeremiah Allen is one of several backs the Blue Devils will unleash this season and he is excited to help carry on the Forks tradition.
"I've been wanting to play out on that turf since I was a little kid," said Chenango Forks junior running back/linebacker Jeremiah Allen. "So, it means everything to me."
A football legacy these kids have watched grow their entire lives.
"When we were growing up it was 2003, '04, the last time (Forks went to the state championship game) so it never really happened," said Wiser. "But '13, '14, and '15, it happened. So, it gives us a ton of confidence, but we know we got to work hard. They are not given out."
New to Forks this season, lights, that will debut Friday night week three against rival Chenango Valley.
"They are pretty excited," said Hogan. All of our kids. All fall sports. Our varsity kids are excited about that and can't wait to get it going."
First, all eyes are on Saturday night week one when the Blue Devils head to Maine-Endwell.
"We haven't seen Maine-Endwell last year or over the summer so we are really looking forward to playing them," said Chenango Forks senior quarterback/cornerback Kris Borelli.
"Really excited to have that big crowd like it was up at the Dome," said Wiser. "Just a lot of noise and a lot of excitement, and it's the first game so everyone is going to be amped up and ready to go."
The Blue Devils have won five straight Section IV titles and have reached the state championship game four years in a row.