KNOXVILLE (WATE) - After winning back-to-back state titles the CAK football team is heading in a new direction-- with a new group of starting players.
The Warriors are close to wrapping-up spring practice, and it has been much different than recent years.
Former quarterback Charlie High, receivers Josh Smith and Davis Howell and offensive lineman Brett Kendrick have moved on to college football, leaving the Warriors with plenty of room to build a new identity.
"We've got a lot of guys that have sat behind last year's seniors for quite a while and it's now their opportunity to step up and be players and we've got a group of guys that are excited about that opportunity," head coach Rusty Bradley said after practice on Tuesday.
"Obviously, people are expecting us to not be as good. I don't know what we'll be like but I'm excited by how hard these guy have worked."
The Warriors return just two starting players on offense-- both on the front line.
"I feel like we'll be operating at the same level. I feel like that we've got a bunch of younger guys stepping up. I feel like they're going to do a really good job," said Patrick Dalton.
Dalton is one of those returning starters.
The Warriors have five starting players returning on defense.
CAK won state titles in 2011 and 2012-- soon after, four of their best offensive players signed letters of intent to play college football.
High, Smith and Kendrick are now at Tennessee.
Davis will play at Chattanooga.
The Warriors will move forward-- hoping to maintain the success they've experienced in recent years.
"Their passion and their excitement, a lot of times coming off back to back state championships, you expect some guys to be a little bit complacent and that's not been the case with these guys," said Bradley.
"They're excited and passionate about playing the game and it's really been an easy off-season."