After months of trying to get the taste of a heart-breaking 27-24 overtime loss to Southwestern in their Section 6 Class C semifinal, the Fredonia Hillbillies are ready for the 2012 season to begin.
"We're excited," head coach Bob Ball said. "We're definitely ready and we've had enough of hitting each other in practice."
First up for the Hillbillies will be JFK, the same team they beat last September to open the 2011 season. However, last year, Fredonia was on the road while this year, the Hillbillies will open at the Orange Bowl for the first time in a several years.
"It's been about three or four years since we had that opportunity," Ball said of his team opening at home. "It's always exciting to play in front of your home crowd. It just adds to (the excitement of a new season)."
As far as being prepared, Ball noted there really isn't much more work to be done before tonight's opener.
"We have gone over every possibility," Ball said. "The only thing we can do now is get into a game situation to see where our weaknesses and strengths are and go from there."
Despite winning 29-14 in last season's opener, Ball knows his Hillbillies will have their hands full with what the Bears will have to offer.
"We played them last year, so at least we have an idea of what they do schematically," Ball said. "And we saw them in a scrimmage this summer. They only have 22 guys, but 18 of them are seniors, so I would say they are an experienced team."
Executing the game plan flawlessly is a sure-fire way to having success, and according to Ball, execution will be the main key to his team picking up its first win of 2012.
"If you can limit the mistakes, and execute, that usually spells success for any team at any level early in the season," Ball noted. "Our two captains, Zach Buckley and Nick Nocek, this is their third year starting, so they lead us and it helps that we run the same system at the jayvee level, so there is definitely some familiarity there (for the new varsity players)."
Buckley was a Class C North First Team linebacker last year for the Hillbillies while Nocek was a Class C North First Team offensive linemen, as well as a Class C First Team All-State offensive linemen in 2011.
"Both teams are going to be trying hard," Ball concluded. "It's just who can limit the mistakes and execute. We're looking forward to (the game)."