KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Central Bobcats have made it to the quarterfinals of the playoffs in back-to-back years, but that’s not enough for the 5A traditional powerhouse.

“We wanna go win a region championship,” said Central head coach Nick Craney. “Last year, we were runner-up in our region. Being competitive in the playoffs. Making a push in the playoffs. We got to the quarterfinals last year. Obviously, a goal for us would be to break through that.”

Craney believes that building toward that goal starts with a good culture.

“That’s one of the things that we challenge our staff all of the time is to build relationships, so that when we challenge kids to do something, that they’re not comfortable doing when we challenge them to be better than they think they can be,” said Craney. “It’s not coming from a place of coach is being hard on me. It’s coming from a place coach believes that I can be successful even when I don’t know I can be successful.”

The Bobcats graduated 24 guys, but they return a lot of players who have had playing time. Fourteen players are returning who have had starting experience. One new starter will be quarterback Tre Lyons who will be replacing Ryan Bolton.

“I think Tre is a phenomenal kid and gives us what we want from a leadership, from the intangible standpoint that a quarterback has to have,” said Craney. “Forget everything else about physically can they play the position or not. You gotta be able to be a field general. You gotta be able to lead people. He’s got that.”

Lyons is ready to be the guy that leads his team to the promise land.

“Everybody wants a state championship,” said Lyons. “I feel like it’s my last year. I’m a senior, so why not get a ring?”

The Bobcats are coming off an 8-4 season. They look to improve that number in 2022 starting with a road game against Greeneville on Aug. 19.