December 1, 2012.
You may not know the significance of that date yet but everybody on the football team does.
It's the day of the state championship and every Mentor Cardinals' season is an arrow pointing to that day.
Last year, the Cardinals fell short of their ultimate goal -- to win the championship. Despite and , they were beaten in the Region 1 final by St. Ignatius -- a team they had beaten in the regular season.
But none of that will matter when the Cardinals .
A new season means an empty slate and the same high expectations with the same arrow pointing to Dec. 1.
Head Coach Steve Trivisonno introduced this year's squad to the public Saturday at Jerome T. Osborne Stadium.
He then closed with these words:
"Standing on this field comes with great expectations," he said of the players standing behind him, "and they're working hard to realize them."
Smaller, faster, more focused
Many of the Cardinals will look familiar this season.
Mentor High QB and will return with a few of his favorite targets -- Brandon Fritts and Connor Krizancic.
However, there's always turnover between seasons. The Cardinals needed to replace four starters on offense and eight on defense; and with those changes in personnel come adjustments in strategy.
Those changes will be most evident on defense.
Gone is the sheer size of Tom Strobel and Kurt Laseak, who were recruited by the University of Michigan and Ohio University, respectively.
But the Cardinals are replacing that size with speed.
"We're not as big so we're going to have to come at people more often, blitz more," Trivisonno said.
Trivisonno singled out a pair of young defensive ends, Kent Berger and Von Maddox, that were ready to step up this season.
"We're going to be bringing a lot of looks that people aren't used to seeing," Berger said.
The junior added that the emphasis has been put on speed during training.
"We've been working hard all summer -- flying around, just trying to stay athletic," he said.
Maddox said the defense may be fresh but it's ready.
"We've been prepared since last year, knowing it would be a new defensive line," he said.
As per strategy, Maddox said the emphasis is on getting to the ball.
"We're pass rushers first and, on our way to the pass, we stop the run," he said.
Just because the majority of the offense is returning, doesn't mean nothing has changed from last year.
"I think we're a lot more focused," Trubisky said. "Our practices are a lot faster. We're really getting at each other."
But one thing that has not changed is the fact that the Cardinals offense intends to score every time it hits the field.
"We still have the same goal," Krizancic said. "Put as many points on the board as possible."
Trivisonno said he expects the offense to propel the team in the early season while the defense finds its footing.
The and it features several marquee matchups, including a rematch with St. Ignatius.
However, Trivisonno said there is no specific game on his radar.
"Every game's important," he said. "When you want to get into the playoffs, every game counts."