WEBSTER GROVES, Mo. — For the past five seasons, you could say the Webster Groves Statesmen football team took a few steps back.
"It’s been hard," cornerback Stephen Cooper said.
They went from one of the top programs in the area to a team with 17 wins in their last 52 games.
But this year is the start of a new chapter. Historic coach, Cliff Ice retired and the young gun, Matt Buha, took over the reigns.
"I think we’re in a spot where our community is really hungry for football, our community is really hungry for, our kids are really hungry for an opportunity just to create something really, really special here," Buha said.
In order to turn this ship around, it meant a 180 was needed, which is already evident in this pandemic shortened season said senior quarterback, Ryan Lanouette.
"A lot of energy, the competitiveness, the comradery, it’s everything," he said.
Despite their record in years past, and going winless two seasons ago, this group isn’t lacking confidence.
"There’s never a year that we’re going to say ahh we’ll get them next year because we’re not doing too good," Lanouette said. "We’re going to win every year and that’s our plan."
His teammate, Stephen Cooper, doubled down on that take.
"We got better, we got stronger, we got faster, we gon’ take it all for real," he said.
Due to the pandemic, Webster Groves only has three guaranteed games before the playoffs start. But they say it's their final game on the calendar that will mean the most.
The Statesmen haven’t beaten rival, Kirkwood in seven seasons, but they say this is the year.
"We’re planning to win every single year," Lanouette said.
When asked why this year is the year, Cooper couldn't stop smiling.
"We just work better, we work harder, we just cold," Cooper said laughing.
While the players keep the bulletin board material fresh, coach Buha took a more conservative approach.
“I would tell you that we are taking all the steps in the right direction to do that and we are full speed ahead," Buha said.