COZAD, Neb. -- A high school football team in central Nebraska is gearing up for the 2022 season.

The Cozad Haymakers have hit the ground running and have begun to prepare to improve on last year's 5-4 record.

Head coach Jayce Dueland said the team will have multiple seniors returning who are ready to take the next step and improve their game.

"We got 11 great leaders and seniors and just always have that ultimate goal that every team does. You want to start with winning districts and making the playoffs," Coach Dueland said. "You take each game. Every game is win or go home."

After winning their first five games of the 2021 football season, the Haymakers dropped their final four missing out on a playoff spot.

Senior Eli Boryca says his junior year was one that was filled with a lot of growth. Looking ahead, he has high hopes for 2022.

"I expect that we should go and finish out strong our motto is always "start strong and finish strong" and just have to finish," Boryca said. "We had a little bit of struggle finishing last year, so we'll just need to finish and we'll be good this year."

One important lesson Coach Dueland says his team learned from last season is to be more prepared and have the right mindset on every snap. 

Senior Isaac White echoed his coach and says practices have been more energetic and competitive this season.

"It makes our practices better when everyone has energy, everyone is hyped up, and everything is more competitive and it helps everyone get better every week," White said.

Practices aren't the only area of the team that has been improving.

Coach Deuland says the team's chemistry on and off the field has improved immensely.

He credits his coaching staff and the senior class for that.

"When someone makes a mistake, help them out and when someone does something good, celebrate them,” he said. “The seniors have gotten better every day."

But one thing on everyone's mind is, are the players ready?

Well, they can answer for themselves.

"Pretty good. Everyone is hyped to get back out there on the football field," said Senior Chord Chtyka.

"I would agree with Chord, I think everyone likes the game of football and when they bring the energy out onto the field,” Boryca said.

With the season just days away, the Haymakers know that despite stats and records, every week will be a battle no matter who they play. 

"Everybody is trying to play their best game when they play Cozad" Coach Dueland said. 

The Haymakers kick off their season on Friday, August 26th against the McCook Bison on the road at 7 pm. All of the Haymakers' games will be available on Cozad Telephone Company Channel 21.