A year ago the Ira Bulldogs climbed to the top of the state rankings, but had their dreams of reaching AT&T Stadium shattered by eventual state champions Crowell.
Now a year later the Bulldogs enter the season with the same goal, but not forgetting last year's loss.
"Motivates us a lot because we know we're going to see them again this year. .We're going to be ready, mentally and physically. We're stronger and faster, and I think we can get them this year," said Logan Morris.
"They remember the Crowell experience, and how close we were. It's a lot of motivation there," said head coach Toby Goodwin.
For Ira the journey to the top of the mountain starts in the dark with Midnight Madness.
"We've done it for a long time now, and it's something to look forward to. You know, we get those freshman in here, have those other guys talking smack, and get to let some steam off on them," said Tanner Shifflett.
They wouldn't be alone at practice on Friday morning. Family, friends, and fans filled the stands in Ira to get their first glimpse at the 2014 Bulldogs.
"It's huge. The fans come out every day and support us. We wouldn't be half as successful if it wasn't for them supporting us," said Morris.
"It just speaks volumes about how our community supports our kids in whatever we do," said Goodwin.
The Bulldogs return 25 players off of last years team, 15 of them are seniors. That includes running back Tanner Morris, who rushed for over 3,000 yards a year ago.
Even with that talent and experience returning for another year, the Bulldogs know it will take more to achieve their goals in 2014.
"We're just going to have to fight., and just keep our goals high, stick to them. Just keep God in there with us," said Shifflett.
"Just got to keep working hard, and stay disciplined. Bust our butts every day at practice," said Morris.
And that work starts in the dark with Midnight Madness.