CLINTON, Tenn. (WATE) — Darell Keith took over the Clinton Dragons football program three years ago. In his first season, the went 1-8. Last year, Clinton finished 6-4. Now, the culture is established and a state title is the expectation.

“Last year, they thought they could,” said Keith. “The year before that, they wished they could. Now they know they can. Now, we don’t have to push them out. We have to sometime slow them down. You guys gotta get rest. We can’t lift today. We can’t do this. Come on coach, we’re gonna get soft.’ I am so excited.”

The Dragons have five starters returning on defense and six on offense, but their total number of players has increased.

“I went from a 48-man roster to a 73-man roster,” said Keith. “I got some unexpected gifts.”

One player returning is starting quarterback Joshuah Keith. The quarterback is entering his junior season. Last year, he threw for 1,743 yards and nine touchdowns.

“He means everything. If we didn’t have him, we wouldn’t be an offense,” said Clinton senior offensive lineman Barrett Maddox. “If we lose him, we don’t got a backup. That boy has been working, getting his muscle right just so he doesn’t get hurt.”

The strength of the team isn’t just on one side of the ball.

“We’re very versatile,” said Joshuah Keith. “We have really fast guys on both sides of the ball. We have very athletic guys in our secondary and on offense. (We have) a really good line. A very athletic line. Smart line.”

Clinton starts the season on Aug. 19th when they host William Blount.