BRISTOL, VT – A new division means a new chance for the Mt. Abraham Union Eagles to prove themselves this season.

“You know, the tougher schedule is always accepted and wanted cause it really puts you in a position to see what kind of talent you have on your team and how good your team is,” said Eagles head coach, Jeffrey Stein.”

The Eagles, now in DII, beat Rice Memorial on a wild kick-return touchdown in the DIII quarterfinals last year, but then lost in the semifinals to top seeded Windsor. The defeat hasn’t been far from their minds since.

“We’ve got that drive this year because after…getting that loss last year we all got that dog in us,” said Ian Funke, a wide receiver and free safety. “We’re all looking for that win.”

This year, getting that win doesn’t seem too far fetched.

“[We] graduated six [and] brought in 12. This is the most numbers this program has had in a while,” said Stein. “We [have] about 45 kids that are out here working hard and competing against each other.”

Mt. Abraham finished 2022 with a 4-4 regular season record. These Eagles players are optimistic a winning record could be in their future.

“With the team we have and the work we put in this summer, I can definitely see us having a better record…and potentially getting a home playoff game,” said Jamison Couture, a running back and defensive end.

Funke and Couture could be a big reason for the Eagles success in 2023.

“Jamison [Couture]…had over 1,000 yards rushing and Ian [Funke] could have easily had over 1,000 yards receiving so I think we have a dual threat there and I think it’s gonna be difficult for teams to defend us,” said head coach Stein.

The teams’ obvious size won’t hurt either. “We’ve definitely had some big boys in the past but this year everyone’s one year older, everyone’s one year bigger,” said Funke. He is also excited about the Eagles’ defensive prowess. “I think we’re gonna have a lot of [interceptions] for sure, if they throw the ball up, it’s ours.”

This may be an optimistic mindset, but the Eagles have been improving, and are hungry for more.

“They’re looking to advance and get a little bit further than they have,” Stein said, specifically about his senior class. “Now we’re finally getting some playoff appearances and playoff wins and we’re starting to turn the ship a little bit at a time.”

Mt. Abraham is home to start the season on Saturday, September 2 against Spaulding.