FITZGERALD, GA (WALB) - The Fitzgerald Purple Hurricane had their hearts broken last season, when a last second field goal in the state semis sent them home.
Now they're back for redemption.
The Canes are ranked as high as second in some Class AA polls, and they have a large group of talent returning.
The Region 1-AA player of the year Gerald Morgan is gone, but head coach Jason Strickland felt junior running back J.D. King was ready to break out.
The expectations are sky high for the Canes, but that's pretty typical in Fitzgerald.
"Our fan base is one of the best in the state I believe. Their expectations are high. It's one of the reasons that makes this a great spot to be," said Strickland. "With those expectations, they're going to give us every opportunity to be successful. Our kids understand that. Our coaching staff understands that. It's a driving force every day we walk out on the practice field."
Strickland said they had the most summer participation since he's been head coach, and he adds he didn't have to motivate them much this offseason.
He hopes it is the prelude to another successful season.
"We kind of ended the season on a bit of a bitter note. We were so close to playing that last weekend," he says. "But our guys came back with a focus and understood how close they were, understood what we had coming back. They feel like we have a good opportunity if we stayed healthy and continue to progress, that we might give ourselves another chance."
The Hurricane will host Worth County in one of the opening week's premier games. Both Fitzgerald and Worth County have lofty goals in 2015.