It is year number nine for Tony Sigmon as the head football coach at Whitehall high school.
Sigmon has had a lot of talent in the past but he's calling this the deepest that he's had. In fact, he's confident this could be the group to break their conference title drought.
"Our last conference title, it has been a while," Sigmon said, "I want to say 1999 or 2000."
The motivation for this year's returners is sky high.
"Coming back with this group, everyone is determined and motivated," said senior safety, Max Brown, "we all have the same goal, we all want the West Michigan Conference title and want to have a good run in the postseason."
For the past few seasons, the Whitehall football program has been right on the cusp of breaking that drought but only have a few second place finishes to show for it.
"It would mean a lot being that group to break kind of that cold streak and it's definitely one of our goals," said senior linebacker Nick Blanchard, "I think it's definitely doable and it's up there as one of our goals but we have even higher goals than that."
Last season, the Vikings took another second place finish in the West Michigan Conference after falling to Montague, 34-31 in a battle of unbeatens in week five.
The returning players say that was a wake-up call.
"We're trying to keep level heads," Brown added, "last year we went in a bit hot headed into Montague, we learned our lesson and got a reality check so this year we're trying to stay humble but working every day to get better."
The Viking defense allowed just three total points in its first four games of the 2020 season before that loss to the Wildcats.
This season, they return seven off of that defense and 16 in total from that 7-2 team.
"The biggest thing is we have a group that's been through the fire," Sigmon said, "they've been through a lot of games and things like that. We had five sophomores up last year that all started and we haven't even talked about our junior class that we really leaned on."
The confidence is especially high on that returning defense as the depth continues to build.
"We returned a lot of guys, I think we returned eight or nine guys on defense and we had one of the best defenses in our division," Blanchard added, "we're very deep. We have a crazy depth chart this year, we have guys two or three strings back that can step up and play football at a high level."
Two of the Vikings' conference foes, Montague and Oakridge have gotten the better of them over the past decade and have each won state championships in the past 13 seasons, including the Wildcats just last season.
Sigmon says it's a great measuring stick playing those teams every season.
"Credit Oakridge and Montague, they won a conference championship and state championship in their own right and they're excellent football programs to measure ourselves to so we know if we can compete with them, we have a good chance against anybody."
Whitehall will open the season on August 26 against Kalamazoo United before opening West Michigan Conference play against Oakridge in week two.