As Colin McShane and his Centreville High School football teammates walked to the practice field on Sept. 8, the senior right guard conceded that, it’s going to take more than just a good effort on game day to avenge the team’s dismal 2008 1-9 record.
"We've been coming out here and working really hard," McShane said. "We're just trying to be a team and not a bunch of individuals on the field. That's what we need to do to win."
The last time the Wildcats won a game was Sept. 5, 2008, against T.C. Williams High School.
That streak of losses was extended to nine after the Wildcats’ 21-14 season-opening loss to Annandale High School on Sept. 4.
Though the varsity team hasn't won a game in a year, senior quarterback Cam Walter said last season’s record is motivating the team to improve.
"It was disappointing [to go 1-9]," Walter said. "We're going to try and do the opposite of that. We have a bit of regret about that season. We've got a chip on our shoulders now."
Centreville isn't accustomed to being one of the weaker programs in the Concorde District. An increased leadership role by senior players might be the key to returning the Wildcats to their former glory, McShane said.
"Last year we didn't have anyone to step up and lead the team," he said. "Hopefully, it changes this year. We've got guys who I think can do it."
Head Coach Gerard Pannoni echoed McShane's comments, noting this year's squad is more coachable and eager to win.
"We're a much more cohesive team," he said. "We're just a better team. We may not have any [future Division I players] this year, but as a team we're coming together better."
Although the team has been working together, the Wildcats still are trying to find their winning stride.
"We've got to find a way to get a win," Pannoni said. "These kids have got to get a taste of winning. We haven't had a whole lot of that. Once we get it, things will get better."
While that winning taste didn’t come against Annandale team members said they saw improvement.
"We did pretty good [in the Annandale game]," McShane said. "But things just didn't go our way. When we got in the red zone, we just couldn't finish."
Pannoni said the Wildcats are working to correct their opening-game mistakes for the upcoming match with Thomas Edison High School on Sept. 11.
"Last week we had turnovers, turnovers on downs," he said. "We can't have that and we won't accept that. Edison has three great athletes and we can't let them control the game. We've got to create our own opportunities out there."
Edison opened its season with a 23-12 loss to Patriot District powerhouse West Springfield High School.
Though the Wildcats are hopeful that they can reverse the 1-9 season, the road to recovery will not be an easy feat. As a member of the Concorde District, the Wildcats must rebuild while facing some of the best teams in the Northern Region.
"We talked about our schedule, but I assume that ours has got to be one of the toughest in the region," Pannoni said. "We face nine playoff teams this year."
Pannoni also said that being a part of the Concorde District means games against non-district opponents are tougher because of the prestige the Concorde District carries.
"Anytime anyone [outside of the Concorde District] is playing someone from the Concorde District, its like a Super Bowl to them," he said. "They just raise the level of play."
Even though the match with Edison won't be a pushover, the Wildcats are ready to rid themselves of the losing streak.
"We're trying to get it out of our heads," Walter said. "We've got to get rolling, get our first win and move on."