BUCKHANNON, W.Va – The Buckhannon-Upshur football team has seen tough times in recent years, but 2021 provided some hope as the Buccaneers posted three victories after back-to-back one-win seasons.

Head coach Zach Davis oversaw that improvement in his first year helming the program, and his hopes are that it can serve as a springboard for an even bigger leap in his second season.

“When you triple your win total from the year before, it’s something you can build on. I think our guys have and they’re hungry for more and they have to earn it every day,” he said, “It’s something where they have to come out and practice with intensity and they do that, and it’s a joy to coach them.”

The Buccaneers return a veteran senior class that has seen plenty of ups and downs in their first three years of high school football. As Ian Donnen embarks on his final year as BU’s starting quarterback, he sees a group that has overcome plenty and has the chance to do something big.

“It’s going to be one of the first years recently that we’ve been led by seniors and we have high expectations. We’ve been together for a while, went through a lot and we have a lot of high expectations for this year,” he said.

While a three-win season may be something that the average fan would scoff at, it represents a major step forward for the Buckhannon-Upshur program.

Davis has been able to see a change in the motivations of his players as they approach the season this year with a new level of intensity on the practice field.

“They’re guys that are just gritty. They’re tough guys. They’re guys that are team-first people,” he said, “They love their teammates and they want to play for each other, and to me as that’s one of the best things as a coach to see.”

The head coach expects his experienced senior class to do a lot of the heavy lifting on this team, and Gavin Brown who returns as one of the veterans in that group says that leaving the program better than they found it is something he and his fellow seniors certainly want to do.

“We have high hopes this year. We think we have a really good football team and I’m expecting improvement this year too,” he said.

While there may be doubters after a three-win season, these seniors have a goal in mind.

“I mean obviously the hope is to get to the playoffs every year, maybe even the championship, but it would mean everything to this team with how hard we’ve worked this season,” Brown said.

For Buckhannon-Upshur, the recent history is being thrown out the window. There are internal hopes for what this team can do in 2022 and they are not subtle.

“I think our goal is the playoffs and that’s something that we talk about often,” Davis said, “We want to play game 11 and we have to do what it takes to play that game, and they’re doing that right now and that’s all we can ask of them.”

Buckhannon-Upshur opens the season on August 26, on the road at Bridgeport.