The Braves haven't won a postseason game since 2002, and in order to do that, Hartman has put an increased focus on improving defensively. Maconaquah gave up more than 32 points per game and more than 3,000 total yards last season.
"We feel skill-wise and with our offensive line, we're right on track where we need to be offensively," Hartman said. "The kids are coming up through the system now and have a better understanding. But at the end of the day, you still have to make blocks and you still have to make tackles in order to win football games. That's something we've been lacking, so we put a very big emphasis on defense this summer. We made some changes as far as what we've done before. So we're going to start fresh and do some things differently."
Now in the third season of his second stint, coach Bob Prescott saw significant improvement in between years one and two, as the Bengal Tigers went from 0-10 to 3-7.
But with that improvement comes the losses to graduation for Peru, including the team's leading rusher (Kaleb Hammersley), leading receiver (Shane Swinford) and starting quarterback (Tarran Townsend). Finding replacements for that trio has been at the forefront of summer workouts.
"Our main focus is just to continue to try to get better every day," Prescott said. "Not only as a player, but as a person as well. So, we want to develop our kids in the weight room to develop strength. We also want to develop mental toughness. But just as importantly as anything else, we want to develop some character."
Even with the loss of Hammersley, Swinford and Townsend, Prescott says he still possesses a core group of guys who understand expectations well. Those leaders are allowing the team as a whole to grow closer and bond as a team.