BINGHAMTON (WBNG) - 2016 was all about the B. The Binghamton Patriots won its first Class AA Section IV title since 2012 but have some questions to answer heading into the 2017 season.
"We won Section IV for the first time in years and that's a big accomplishment for us," said Binghamton senior running back Eric Fortner. "Now we just want to up it a notch. We want to take it to states and win states. We're not just okay with Section IV this year."
The Binghamton Patriots head into 2017 with momentum and head coach Mike Ramil's message to his team this off-season was simple.
"You're basically Section IV champs," said Binghamton head coach Mike Ramil. "You've got to defend it and what you do now will determine whether or not we are going to do that."
The Patriots will have to do it all without starting quarterback John Petrucci who graduated. Binghamton replaces him with Dan Crowley who transferred from Seton Catholic.
"(Crowley) wants to win," said Ramil. "He wants to do whatever he can to get players around him better and he's just excited to be here."
Top playmaker Devin Young also graduated. The Patriots though are confident in their young players stepping up.
"This year we don't only have one target," said Fortner. "We have multiple and it's not just our starters. We have guys that can back them up and actually come in in case they go down."
As for who is returning for the Binghamton Patriots.
"We have one of the best runningbacks in Section IV and New York state," said Binghamton senior wide receiver/cornerback Devin Tyler.
His name is Eric Fortner.
"Eric, he is one of the hardest running and working running backs in the section," said Binghamton senior offensive lineman Matt Fiato. "He never gives up and he has the most drive out of anyone on this team."
Fortner loves the five guys blocking in front of him.
"I tell them every day in practice, 'I'm so happy that I have you guys as my linemen because that makes it easy for me'," said Fortner.
"We love running it down other team's throats and with our running back and offensive line, I feel like we can do that," said Fiato.
Defensively the Patriots plan on using its speed to get the ball back to their offense.
"(Our goal on defense is) to get turnovers defensive-wise," said Tyler. "We had a lot of turnovers (last season). I think it was 28."
For a team with high goals and expectations, the preseason is about focusing each day.
"We work hard every day in practice, no matter what," said Fortner. "No matter the temperature we come out here and work hard as a unit."
Binghamton opens its season at Liverpool Friday, September 1, at 7 p.m.