JOHNSON CITY (WBNG) - 2016 was not a season to remember for Johnson City football as the team lost all nine of its games. Now entering a new season, the Wildcats are anxious to put that season behind them and start fresh in 2017.
"Eyes forward, can't look back," said Johnson City head coach Dave Robinson.
Head coach Dave Robinson's message to Johnson City following a winless 2016 season.
"Just got to instill a lot of pride," said Robinson.
With more kids coming out for the team this season, early results are positive.
"Energy level is up," said Robinson. "Kids are hungry."
Part of JC's struggles last season can be attributed to losing its starting quarterback Gavin McKercher to an MCL injury.
"After that, it was just different without the starting quarterback," said Johnson City junior fullback/middle linebacker Jimmy Nezelek. "Changes the team a lot"
McKercher is healthy to start camp and ready to lead the Wildcats.
"Gavin's a good athlete," said Robinson. "He's got great feet. It's a little nervous trying to see him work the agility as he is carrying out these drills but the more we see, the better we feel about it."
Lining up behind McKercher is senior Ladarius Thompson, the Wildcats' workhorse.
"He's our premier back," said Robinson. "No hiding that. He's a well-known commodity. Very good athlete, very good in hoops, transitions well right into football."
"He can do anything with the ball," said Johnson City senior quarterback Gavin McKercher. "When he gets it in his hands, he can do stuff."
"Blocking for him is great because right after I get the block, he's gone," said Nezelek. "He's really fast and I don't know anybody that can catch him."
Blocking for Thompson is a group of multi-sport athletes Robinson views as one of the strengths of the team.
"Most of our offensive line are heavyweight wrestlers," said Robinson. "They are pretty good on their feet and they are very good with their hands."
A healthy McKercher, explosive Thompson, and strong offensive line has the Wildcats hoping for more victories in 2017.
"Play as a team," said McKercher. "Work together. Grind."
"Every day we come out here," said Robinson. "You got to set the aches and pains aside, and you got to keep moving forward."
"I just want to win," said Nezelek.
Johnson City starts its season inside the Carrier Dome Sunday, September 3 at 2 p.m. against Batavia.