The Woodbury football team is hoping an attitude change will help its performance on the field this season.
The Royals showed flashes of reaching their full potential last season, including a victory over crosstown rival East Ridge in the regular season finale and a midseason three-game winning streak.
But with four seniors on the roster who are now playing for Division I football teams, the Royals felt they did not fully utilize their talent level in a 4-5 season that ended in the first round of the Class 6A football tournament.
"I think we've gone in a better direction," said Connor Schellenbach, one of three captains along with David Alston and Lance Siggens. "Sure, we lost skill. But that's individual skill. Now we're coming together as a team."
"I think, collectively as a team, we're much more concerned about Fridays and Saturdays," Alston added.
Head coach Andy Hill brought up his ideas for an improvement in team attitude following a 19-12 loss to Prior Lake in the first round of the Class 6A tournament.
"We talked about a culture shift at equipment turn-in last year, about how I'm going to do a better job holding people accountable," Hill said. "Demanding that we have standards for our behavior and expectations."
The season had its share of highlights, including the dominant 47-25 victory against East Ridge on Oct. 19. It was the only loss in the East Metro Blue subdistrict for East Ridge. Woodbury finished 4-3 in the subdistrict.
"I'd say, personally, as a team, we felt like the performance that we had against East Ridge was the way it should have been every day," Siggens said.
Looking at the numbers, Hill said the Royals' defense returns more experience than the offense. They lost almost all starters on offense, minus a few offensive lineman who might rotate to new positions. Five of the defensive front-seven starters will return this year, and Hill said they have three new defensive backs but "we feel pretty good about the kids that are getting reps there."
One other change the Royals hope to make this season is limiting players from regularly playing both offense and defense, like many did last season.
With more rest and better conditioning, the goal is to limit fatigue.
"You look at some really good players and scholarship players, when they hit that fatigue level they are still good, but they are not great players," Hill said. "We did that to a lot of our guys. You've got to think, in a quarter they might play 45 snaps if they are going both ways."
Woodbury will start its season with a Friday, Sept. 1, home game against Farmington.