ARDMORE, Okla. (KTEN) - Playing tough competition in your district is an area the Ardmore Tigers are all too familiar with especially last season.

"We're 10 points away from being the district champion, and coming in second is hard to take," said head coach Josh Newby. "In the district we're in you want to be the district champion. You want to finish first which puts you with the fourth team in the Oklahoma City district."

Last year the Tigers lost to Bishop McGuinness in the first round of the playoffs.

The last time the program made it past the first round was back in 2018 for the state championship, but there's high hopes for this 2022 Ardmore team with senior quarterback and Illinois commit Cal Swanson back and ready to lead the way.

"I think all the other positions around him will step up because Cal's the one pulling the trigger. He's the leader of the locker room. He's definitely the leader in the huddle, and we're blessed to have him," said Newby.

"Me and Cal are really best friends, and I feel like that's going to translate on the field," said senior running back CJ Williams. "From our lineman, to our corners, to our safeties I feel like everyone has that chemistry and that bond to take it to the next level and get to where we need to go."

As the team chases that district title, a couple new teams will be joining the schedule.

"It is a tough schedule, but we're always up for the challenge. We're ready to accept it and I think that will make us work even harder," said senior quarterback Cal Swanson.

The team lost eight starters on both sides of the ball, but Coach Newby and the players are looking forward to seeing who's ready for the challenge.

"As a coach it's nerve wrecking, but it's also exciting. It's exciting to see who's going to step into those roles, who's going to take leadership positions, and who's going to take pride in what they do," said Newby.

"I'm pretty confident in our roster. We got some returning juniors that went through the fire a little bit last year, so I'm excited to see who's going to step up to the plate and respond to adversity," said Williams.

The Tigers open up their season at home vs Lawton Ike.