OWEGO (WBNG) -- On the final night before the start of the 2017 Section IV high school football season, 12 Sports adds one more page to its Preseason Playbook. That page belongs to the Owego Indians.
"We have the best division in the section," said senior offensive lineman and defensive lineman Christian Bartlow. "It's going to be a tough road, but it's definitely a motivator to get better every day."
Bartlow may have a point. Class B, Division III is arguably the toughest division in all of Section IV. The division is made up of eight talented teams who - for good reason - all make the playoffs.
"I think with the way our division is set up right now, where we're all in the same division, every team is making the playoffs, you're fighting for a playoff ranking at the end of the season, and we're hoping that we can battle throughout the year and then be ready when it comes playoff time," head coach Steve Virkler said.
Just hearing the words "playoff time" motivates this Indians team, especially the senior class.
"We'd like to make playoffs and do well in playoffs like every other team," senior offensive lineman and defensive back Joe Doty said.
Luckily for Doty, his team - like the rest of Class B, Division III - is already playoff bound before the season even starts.
But for the past two seasons, Owego has finished 6-3 with an early playoff exit.
So the question is, how do the Indians reverse history this season?
"It's going to sound cliche, but we're going to take it one week at a time," Virkler said.
"That's what our coaches preach," adds Bartlow. "1-0 sounds a lot better than 0-1."
Cliches aside, be sure to watch out for Owego's new quarterback.
"Tyler Phelps," said Bartlow. "He's new guy, but I feel like he can do some damage."
"He's a pretty athletic kid and has picked things up pretty quick, so hopefully we can make it work," Virkler added.
And what about the work on defense?
"I think our defense is looking pretty good. We like to fire off the ball," said senior running back and linebacker Luke Kiballa. "Up front we're really hard hitting, but the defensive backs are real fast and they do their job real well."
Steve Virkler and his 2017 Owego Indians begin the season on the road against Norwich. Certainly an opening night that should not be overlooked.
"Never underestimate anyone, but I think we have a good chance of winning," Bartlow said.
That Week One contest between the Indians and Purple Tornado kicks off Friday night at 7 p.m. under the lights at Norwich High School.