The Arcadia Raiders haven't lost a Coulee Conference football game in two seasons. The result is two conference titles and a pair of deep playoff runs, but the ultimate goal of winning a state championship still eludes Derek Updike and the community.
This season, the Raiders have nowhere to hide. Everyone knows Arcadia is the team to beat, and they'll likely play their best football against them to derail a third straight title.
That doesn't bother anyone in Arcadia though. In fact, they're embracing it.
"I actually kind of like it, I think the rest of the guys kind of like it too to have that target on our back," senior linebacker Zach Pronschinske said. "Everyone is going to play their best game against us and it's more of a challenge to see how well we can play against them."
The Raiders have an experienced team this season, bringing back 15 starters on both sides of the ball, including third-year starting quarterback Rob Hoesley and the pass-catching duo of Pronschinske and Jim Hoesley. Yet Updike is concerned about the lack of depth on his offensive line with only three returning starters.
"We feel like we have good players, but we just have to make sure we get them working together," he said. "Once we get our offensive line sorted out and find depth around the defense and offensive end of the board, I think we'll be OK."
As for the expectations for another conference title and deep postseason run, Updike isn't taking any game lightly."
"I don't think there's ever a shoe-in any year, Updike said of playing against conference rivals. "Community has high expectations. They want us to go and raise a gold ball above our head but we're just looking at it as if we get better, that will all take care of itself, and if we get complacent, it won't."
Arcadia opens the season Friday, August 21 at Osceola. Week 3 features a rematch with last season's Division 3 state champion Lancaster, the school that ended the Raiders' season in the third round.