STILLWATER, N.Y. (NEWS10) — After falling a game short of a section title in class D last year, the Stillwater Warriors football team return to action in 2022 as members of class C, and the squad has a newfound confidence, and a heightened drive.

“Yeah, I mean, we’re looking real good,” said senior quarterback and cornerback Colby Paffen. “Right after preseason – right after, like, week two – we could tell we were going to be pretty good this year. We just have a drive from last year after losing in the sectional final. So we’re coming in hot this year.”

Stillwater makes the jump from class D to class C due to an uptick in the school’s enrollment. But the Warriors welcome the challenge.

“Well, I like it because last year we faced a pretty good Greenwich school in the Super Bowl (section final), and…we came back this year, beat them,” said junior running back/utility player and outside linebacker Jaxon Mueller. “We’ll be good; see what we can do in class C. I know there’s a lot of tough opponents this year.”

Mueller alluded to Stillwater’s week zero win over a Greenwich Witches team that defeated the Warriors in the 2021 class D section final.

Only class C teams remain on Stillwater’s regular season slate, and their head coach, Ian Godfrey, recognizes the depth of talent the class features.

“Class C I’ve always said is one of the toughest classifications in the state; especially in section two,” said Godfrey. “I mean, we are…we’ve got a lot of really great team – a lot of traditional powers, you know, Schuylerville, Hoosick Falls/Tamarac, Lake George/Warrensburg’s new to the mix. So, I mean, the road to the top is…very difficult, and you’ve got Schuylerville, who’s won the last two (class C championships). So, we know what we’re kind of up against; but we’re also excited to have that challenge…with this group.”

Godfrey and the Warriors do not find themselves in unfamiliar territory, though. They were champions of class C in 2019 before moving to class D for two seasons.

However, as Godfrey mentioned, class C has grown in strength and numbers in that span. But he knows he has the luxury of leaning on a sterling senior core, led by Paffer, to guide his squad through a retooled array of opponents.

“Any time you have a strong senior class, you’re going to be a formidable opponent,” said Godfrey. “These guys have grown up together, they play other sports together, so…they’ve gotten to this point; they know what’s at stake. They also know kinda the challenge ahead, but…again, they’re just so excited, and they’re such great leaders, and kids, that I’m excited to be on this journey with them.”

Senior wide receiver/running back and outside linebacker Trevor Cowin was on that 2019 championship team as a freshman, and he has a message for section two football fans about what to expect from the 2022 Warriors.

“I would expect them (the fans) to have a lot of fun watching our games,” said Cowin. “You know, we’ve got a lot of talent on the field – a lot of athletic guys that are playmakers. So, keep your eyes open for us.”

Stillwater hits the road Friday for their first class C matchup of the season with the Watervliet Cannoneers.