There was a sense of optimism and determination, signs of happiness and focus, and a clear indication college football is back on Sunday.
The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse held its first practice of the fall season Sunday night at Roger Harring Stadium, signaling the start of another college football season.
Approximately 139 players arrived on campus to make the team. The first game is Friday, September 4 against Luther College.
The Eagles are picked to finish fifth in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference this season after going 3-7 in 2014.
Four of those losses came by seven points or fewer. This season, the Eagles are putting an emphasis on closing out football games, and preventing any heartbreaking defeats from happening again.
"We definitely made an emphasis of finishing our workouts, finishing everything," senior defensive back Jon Becker said. "We were so close in a lot of games and our record could have been completely different."
While head coach Joel Dettwiler said a preseason prediction of the WIAC doesn't concern him much, senior quarterback Trent Cummings said it does mean something to him.
"We're going to take that personally," he said. "We want to finish first in this league just like everyone else does and obviously it's a tough one. We're going to have to battle our butts off. We're looking forward to the challenge and we're going to upset some of the critics right there."
UW-L will have to do a lot of upsetting on the road to compete for a WIAC title. The Eagles have only four home games on the season compared to six on the road.
Here is the 2015 UW-L Football Schedule:
9-4-15: vs Luther College, 7 p.m.
9-12-15: at University of St. Thomas (Minnesota), 1 p.m.
9-19-15: at University of Mary Hardin-Baylor (Texas), 6 p.m.
10-3-15: at University of Wisconsin-River Falls, 1 p.m.
10-10-15: vs University of Wisconsin-Stout, 1 p.m.
10-16-15: at University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, 7 p.m.
10-24-15: vs University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, 11:30 a.m. (WATCH ON NEWS 19)
10-31-15: at University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, 1 p.m.
11-7-15: vs University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, 2 p.m.
11-14-15: at University of Wisconsin-Platteville, 1 p.m.