Eugene, Ore. -- "Last year we were really motivated to win a state championship but we were still juniors," Sheldon quarterback Michael Johnson Jr. remembers. "But this year we are realizing like 'ok, this is our last chance, like we're never gonna have this opportunity again' so that's just really setting in and that's really exciting and working hard, and that's what inspiring us."
Sheldon high school's senior class has been looking forward to August 31st since their second round exit in the 2017 6A state football tournament. Which has meant big numbers in the weight room.
"I think Sheldon's...littler," says tight end Patrick Herbert. "Not small, but I think we've always been smaller than most opponents and I think this will help us next year."
"We've had practice I think a few weeks after our last game, we've been working ever since then," lineman Austin Lasby follows up. "We haven't stopped yet, we had one week off the whole summer."
In year 2 of Coach Josh Line's tenure, continuity has set in, but his senior leadership is what has set the tone.
"The younger kids in our program have really responded to that leadership," Line mentions. "It's one of the more impressive displays of leadership. So with that we're all on the same page."
Behind Oregon tight end commit Patrick Herbert and Penn State quarterback commit Michael Johnson Jr, Sheldon has had quite the attention this summer, but it hasn't been a distraction.
"Michael and Pat in particular, it's great when you have kids like that," says their head coach. "It brings a level of attention to maybe some other kids that we have that haven't been recognized. And Mike and Pat are very humble and always put the team first."
Which is good considering the Irish's week 1 matchup: Graham-Kapowsin of Washington, on ESPNU.
"We came back after that loss, we started working out a week later and we started that week after we wanted to win the state championship next year," lineman Madden Salisbury finishes. "We've been coming out, we've been getting good numbers, as many people as we can get out here and we're showing up, busting our butts and really getting to it."
So the pieces are there, and these seniors want 2018 to be a year Sheldon remembers.