CAMBRIDGE, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The final team in “Champions Week” just happens to be the most playoff-rich football program in Section II: Cambridge/Salem out of Class D.

If there’s one thing Cambridge/Salem knows how to do, it’s win section titles; 14 to be exact since Doug Luke took over the program in 1999.

Even in his 24th year as head coach, he takes a simple approach into each season.

“I don’t think much about what the goals are in the future,” said Luke. “We’re not thinking about making it to the Dome. We’re not thinking about getting through game three. We’re just trying to get through game number one.”

And when Cambridge does hit the field against Delaware Academy in Week 0, it’ll offer a different offensive identity than fans have grown accustomed to.

“I don’t think we’re gonna be that smash-mouth team we were last year,” said Luke. “We don’t have quite the same personnel to be able to do that. I think you’re gonna see us try to explode to the outside. We wanna have big plays. We want the, you know, 40, or 50-yard touchdowns.”

And if it’s explosive plays the team’s eyeing, look no further than returning 1,000-yard rusher Brice Burr. The senior running back will take over the primary ball-carrying duties from Evan Day, the 2022 Class D player of the year.

Burr recognizes his success lies on the shoulders of the big fellas up front.

“It all starts with the offensive line,” said Burr. “Today they were blowin’ holes so wide open that you could fit a school bus through. It was amazing. You know, those guys…they have somethin’ to prove. Those question marks…they’re big right now. But hopefully, as the season goes on, they’ll start to disappear once again.”

Luke said the team’s hoping to air the ball out a bit more too. That’s not something you’d typically expect with a freshman quarterback under center, but Stephen Yakubec is not your typical first-year signal caller. He managed to lead Cambridge to the JMA Wireless Dome as an eighth grader last season.

“I had to work to learn all the plays, learn all the guys, how everything went; this year, I feel a lot better,” said Yakubec. “I feel like I can take more of that lead role this year. I’m getting the timing down with the receivers; (I’ve) gotten stronger. So, all that is comin’ into play.”

Even if the offense isn’t the same smash-mouth unit it was a year ago, it sounds like the defense will be.

Cambridge allowed just over 10 points per game in 2022, and leading tackler Deacon Schneider returns to anchor a group that did graduate its’ next five top tacklers outside of Schneider. But the senior linebacker expressed confidence in the growth of the new personnel on that side of the ball, and he intends to maintain a standard of high intensity.

“We are very aggressive,” said Schneider. “We are not afraid of physical contact. We really strive to hit. They (opposing offenses) have our ball. We really want the ball every single play.”

Of the five Section II football champions, Cambridge/Salem was the only squad to reach the state title game. They were upended in that game by Section IV powerhouse Tioga, but the loss has served as ultimate bulletin board material.

“When we came back into the weight room, gettin’ ready for the season, we wrote on the board: “Tioga 63, Cambridge/Salem 20,”” said Burr. “That’s been all motivation all season long. We’re hoping we’ll be able to see them again at the end of the season.”

“We (still) think about that game,” added Schneider. “Every game building up, we’re like, “There’s always that team up there. Think of every game as Tioga. Think of every game as a revenge game, and that we need to build up to beat that team.””

Cambridge’s Week 0 matchup with Section IV’s Delaware Academy will be held in Delhi. Opening kickoff is slated for 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 2.