SIDNEY (WBNG) - The Sidney Warriors made a magical postseason run in 2016, starting as the eight seed in the Class D Section IV playoffs and reaching the state semifinals.
"Getting ready for this season, we go back and watch a lot of film of what happened last year," said Sidney head coach Jeff Matthews.
"I think last year was a great building platform for years to come," said Sidney junior quarterback Darren Smith.
2016 was a memorable year for Sidney Football. The Warriors lost three of its first five games but ended the season winning six of its final seven. The only loss coming in the state semifinals against Maple Grove.
"We all saw what we could do," said Sidney senior lineman Edward Rajner. "What Sidney football can do. We have to come back just as strong as we were last year."
Head coach Jeff Matthews, who is entering his 23rd season as Sidney's head coach, must replace 13 seniors, including playmakers like Alex Hoskins and Dawson Backus.
"So you look back on that and you're just hoping that you can get some guys that can step in and fill those shoes this year," said Matthews.
Starting quarterback Darren Smith is back for the Warriors and entering his junior season.
"I want to get back to the same place, if not farther this year, and I think we definitely can," said Smith.
"It's nice because he's been in the program long enough now that he's an extension of what we're trying to do on the sideline as coaches," said Matthews.
"Playing for Darren is like playing for an NFL quarterback, to be honest," said Sidney senior receiver/defensive back Ethin Finch. "He can put the ball where ever he needs to put it, and he never over thinks everything. He just does what he needs to do and gets it going."
Protecting the prolific passer is a concern as the Warriors welcome back just one starting lineman.
"We're just trying to get five guys who can work together on the line to protect and open some holes for some of our skill guys," said Matthews.
As the team continues to grow up front, all they can think about is week one.
"I'm ready to just go out there and have some fun," said Finch.
"It doesn't get any better than Section IV championship rematch first game," said Smith.
The Section IV Championship rematch between Unatego/Franklin and Sidney kicks off Friday, September 1 at 7 p.m. at Alumni Stadium in Sidney.