FAUCETT, Mo. — A state championship seemed near impossible for Mid-Buchanan football over the last couple of years. But last season proved otherwise.

After winning just one game the year before, the Dragons finished out the 2018 season setting a school record for wins and winning its second ever district title.

“We’re always looked at as underdogs,” Mid-Buchanan senior Tim Speer said. “As we saw last season, we had a very good season so were hoping to make that again.

The Dragons advanced to the state semifinals, but fell 14-13 against Lincoln. Mid-Buch finished the season 9-5, which marked the program’s best season in history.

“We were really dang close last year,” Mid-Buchanan coach Aaron Fritz said. “We’re shooting for that next goal.”

Now that the Dragons have gotten a taste of the state tournament, they want more.

The Dragons were eager to get back to work this summer. They have since been putting in the hours on the field and in the gym.

“We’re pushing ourselves so much harder in the weight room,” Mid-Buchanan junior Lane Ellison. “All of us have gotten so much stronger. We’ve been pushing ourselves beyond what we’re capable of.”

Nine seniors and 16 juniors return to the squad this fall, leading 21 underclassmen. Quarterback Javan Noyes, the News-Press NOW Area Football Player of the Year last season, and Christian Scaggs will lead the charge for the Dragons.

Speer said the upperclassmen are focused on developing a strong bond with their younger teammates on and off the field. The team makes time for one another, whether it’s eating out together or driving a teammate to practice.

“As a senior group, we can do a little better and set a better example for these younger guys. I think as the season goes on, we will achieve our goals as a team and become one,” Speer said.

The Fauccett, Missouri, team wants to enter this season with the reminder that they are no longer the underdogs, but instead championship contenders.

“We are one game away from where we want to be so that’s definitely something that’s on our mind, but we have to get better every day first and learn how to compete each day and try to win each day,” Fritz said.

Week 1 for the Dragons kick off August 30 against Princeton High School.

“We’ve been working extremely hard and hoping it will pay off,” Ellison said.

Kristen Carver can be reached

at kristen.carver@newspressnow.com Follow her on Twitter: @NPNowCarver