ENDICOTT (WBNG) - In 2016 Union-Endicott captured the Class A Section IV title for the fourth time in the past five years. Now in 2017, if the Tigers want to go back-to-back, they have some holes to fill, most notably, the shoes of second team all-state running back and defensive lineman Josh Greenwood.
"Never give up kind of attitude that we kind of stuck with, and proved to ourselves and others," said Union-Endicott head coach Tommy Baleno.
That approach helped Union-Endicott conquer Class A in Section IV last year beating rival Vestal in come from behind fashion before falling to Whitesboro in regionals.
"You always learn something, no matter what," said Baleno. "Whether (it's) your wins or your losses, you always learn."
Baleno continued, "Now, hopefully we are going to turn the page and become more of a team that comes out on fire and not stall out in the beginning and then have to play catch-up ball."
Leading the way for the Tigers this season is senior quarterback Devon Hogan.
"He is a hard worker," said Baleno. "He is a multi-sport athlete so he's always competing throughout the year. He works hard in the summer time with all of his weight training so he is getting bigger, stronger, faster."
"He has progressed a lot, especially in the passing game," said Union-Endicott offensive coordinator Scott Osman. "He looks really good, but we also have a lot of talent all the way through the offense."
Union-Endicott will need to rely on Hogan's arm and legs to make up for the loss of leading rusher Josh Greenwood, as well as the rest of that talent on offense.
"We have some pretty dynamic players," said Baleno. "A little bit different than last year. Just looking at our backs for example, we had big backs last year. This year, we have a little bit more savvy runners, a little quicker runners."
"We've got a stable of guys that are hungry, that are going to come up and I think are going to do a real nice job for us," said Union-Endicott defensive coordinator Marcus Zimmer.
Right now U-E isn't focusing on returning to the state playoffs, just the process that will allow them to succeed.
"They are like sponges," said Zimmer. "They're constantly asking for feedback on what they can do to improve. They are always seeking out advice and they have been tremendous leaders for the younger guys that have been coming up."
The Tigers open the 2017 season on the road at Elmira on Saturday, September 2 at 1:30 p.m.