JERICHO, Vt. — The Mount Mansfield Cougars are gearing up for a new football season, with a renewed determination to turn their fortunes around. Last year was a challenging one for the team, which only managed to collect two wins during the season. However, the players and coaches are eager to leave the past behind and focus on the opportunities for growth that come with adversity.

Head Coach Nick Michaud acknowledged the team’s struggles from the previous season, saying, “We got beat too many times by turning the balls over and mental errors.” Senior Center and Defensive Lineman Jacob Laird added, “All of last year’s games were pretty rough, so I want to get back at every team we’re playing. I just have the entire team schedule circled.”

Despite a slow start last year, the team finished strong, winning two out of their last three games, both against U-32. Coach Michaud emphasized the importance of those victories, saying, “The kids remember what it’s like to win a football game, so they don’t want that feeling of losing anymore.”

This season, the Cougar players have already noticed cultural differences compared to last year. Senior Jacob Laird pointed out, “The level of intensity of the practices is definitely a level up this year. We’re being worked much harder, and we’ll be in better shape conditionally for next year.”

One significant change for Mount Mansfield is its increased emphasis on defense. Last year, the team allowed opponents to score an average of around 46 points in games they lost. Laird highlighted the importance of their defensive prowess, stating, “Defense is huge for us. It’s our strong suit. We’re fast, and we’ll be in the backfield.”

For the Cougars, this season is about more than just winning games; it’s about building a brighter future for the team. Coach Michaud praised the senior leadership, saying, “I think we have a really great group of leaders at the top with 10 seniors who are mentoring the younger guys and bringing them along.” Senior Wide Receiver and Safety Luke Subin-Billingsley echoed this sentiment, expressing his desire to “build a culture that will hopefully last past me when I’m gone and start something that will continue in the program.”

The Cougars will kick off their season this Friday night against BFA St. Albans.

In Jericho, the Mount Mansfield Cougars are determined to make the most of their new season and the opportunities it brings. As Senior Luke Subin-Billingsley put it, “We’re pumped up and ready to go.”