The Fulton Falcons are preparing for what they hope will be a championship season.
"It's probably the toughest summer we've ever had," said head football coach Rob Black. We always say if you want something you've never had, you have to do something you've never done. We've worked a lot harder this year than we ever have."
The Fulton football team is led by a large group of more than 20 seniors. Although the program has experienced decades of success, the players on their current roster have never won a state title. That leaves the 2019 class more determined than ever to win a championship before they graduate.
"The last class here that won a state championship, those guys that graduated last year were freshman then so these guys haven't done it. I think they want their picture on the wall as well. Our offseason and preseason workouts and everything so far have indicated that they're willing to work for that."
"We've been through a lot, some crazy stuff, tragedy, stuff like that," said senior quarterback Xavier Malone. It just brought us together as a big family, so to win a state championship it will make it complete. I mean, we got it done."
Despite working with an inexperienced offensive line, the Falcons finished last season with a solid 9-3 overall record. This year experience is one of their strengths.
"I think experience is everything", said Coach Black. We went into last season with no returning offensive lineman, in fact three or four of those guys are former fullbacks and tight ends that we moved there because of need.
"I think Xavier has a ton of confidence now. He had to be a different kind of quarterback a little bit with that young offensive line, where now I think he can play the position and let them play theirs."
"Last year I didn't really know what to expect out of them because they hadn't really played the position before, but this year I think they got it."
Xavier Malone is heading into his senior season and his fourth year as the Falcons' starting quarterback.
"He gets better every year and I think this will be his breakout," said senior linebacker Michael Hobby.
"We got a high confidence level, not just me, we got the whole team," said Malone. We're confident. We don't feel like nobody can stop us."
Fulton's first game of the season is against Knoxville Central High School on August 23.