ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) 2017 was a season Lutheran wants to quickly forget. The Crusaders finished a dismal 1-8 and missed the playoffs for the first time in six years.
In his second year, head coach Chuck Leonard knows he has something to prove.
The Saders enter the season with an older team and a new focus.
Lutheran has 23 upperclassmen on its roster with many of them getting reps as freshman and sophomores.
Tiger Brown returns to the backfield this season after earning all-conference honorable mention as a sophomore.
Leonard says he's had time to reflect on his first year and after talking with some of the players, he says the program is heading in the right direction.
"We want to compete in every game," said Leonard. "Win, lose, whatever, we want every team that we play to know that they were in a heck of a ballgame. We want to be physical. We tell our kids you can't control who you play from week to week, you can't control the talent of your opponent, all you can control is your effort and your energy. If we bring our effort, if we bring our energy and we bring everything we got week to week, we feel we can be competitive this season."