CLIFTON PARK, NY (NEWS10) — Last season was a good one for the Shenendehowa football team. They beat Shaker for the first time in 10 years, making it all the way to the section title game. But this year, with a new look offense, they’re looking for more.

Shenendehowa fell to CBA 28-14 in last year’s Class AA title game, capping off an otherwise successful 2021 season. That loss is still driving the Plainsmen returners to get back to and beyond the section championship this year. “Insanely driven,” said senior running back Aziz Alozie. “Obviously we’re taking it one day, one game, one practice at a time. But our end goal is to go all the way.”

“This year, I think we can go farther than that,” said senior defensive end and tight end Cody Smith. “We’re really motivated by it. We’re really bringing it at practice because of that.”

To surpass last season’s success, the Plainsmen will have to lean on their experienced defense, returning six starters. “It’s nice to know as a football coach and as a team that you have that behind you,” said head coach Brian Clawson. “I think that defense wins championships.”

It’s a different story on offense, with a lot of new faces. Shen lost nine offensive starters to graduation, but they’re not worried. “We’re going to be a good young on offense I can tell you that right now,” said Clawson. “Pieces are in place for sure but it’s just a matter of getting one percent better each day as we move forward.”

Last year’s quarterback Mason Courtney was one of the starters lost to graduation. Juniors Michael Whatley and Blake Mello are still competing for the job. “We’re not going to name a starting quarterback until Thursday, so it’s been a really good competition,” said Clawson. “I think each has their own skillset that they bring to the table and they’ve both been really good leaders so far and we’re very excited about both of them.”

Shen will visit La Salle this Friday for their season opener. Tune in to News10 ABC this and every Friday night during the football season for highlights, reaction, and more on 1st & 10.