Last season, Sierra stumbled into the offseason on a six-game losing streak, a punchless unit that was outscored by an average score of 36-12 in that period.
Now, the Stallions are ready to return some of those blows.
"Before, we weren't in the weight room," senior cornerback and wide receiver Daevon Marshall said. "Now, we're in there. Everything is different. We're aggressive. We can be great this year."
The Class 3A Stallions, 2-8 in 2012 in their first season under coach Dean Huffman, will hope to see some of that potential at 1 p.m. Saturday when they play host to Middle Park at Memorial Stadium. The Panthers reached the 2A playoffs last season and finished 8-3.
"I don't want to make any predictions, but I'm excited," Huffman said. "We've been working all summer, and it should show off now. I'm excited to see how it comes together on the field."
Sierra put a premium on conditioning during the offseason, especially when the team began workouts Aug. 12. During the first three days of practice, more than 20 players left the team, having lost the desire and commitment to continue.
The remaining 60 Stallions said the arduous, boot-camp-like experience created a more tight-knit team and everyone knew who was in it for the long haul.
"It's OK that they left," senior running back and linebacker Demontre Brown said. "It helped the morale of the team and got us motivated. We know who wants to be here."
Last season, seniors accounted for 19 of the team's 23 touchdowns and a staggering 90 percent of the total offense, so whoever steps up will be breaking new ground.
Senior fullback Remmon Brown leads the offensive returners but had just 17 carries last season. Marshall touched the ball seven times in limited action, while junior receiver Darrion Pyos returns after a nine-reception season in 2012.
Young offensive and defensive lines are anchored by senior Louis Vigil, a senior, along with newcomer and fellow senior Eddie Knowles, a 6-foot, 230-pound move-in from Alabama.
If anything, the youth movement has provided an energy and passion to move from the old and return to the successes of recent years. The Stallions enjoyed winning seasons in 2007-08 and 2010.
"We don't have our identity yet, and we're pretty young all over," Huffman said. "Unfortunately, it's a young year for us, but I know we have good stuff."