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After memorable 2014 season, Saline opens practice on Monday with sights set even higher for 2015

By: Jeff Dullack, August 10, 2015, 8:25 pm

Saline – After a year where it put together the best football season in school history, Saline opened up practice on Monday not content with the accomplishment of 2014, but looking for more in 2015.

The Hornets advanced to the Division 1 state championship game last season, where they would fall to Clarkston, who won a second straight state title, but the experience has Saline hungry to win that final game of the season.

Saline coach Joe Palka said that the goal every year is to win a state championship for his team, but he is focused on seeing his team improve each week and added that he can see that his team is motivated to win a state title this fall.

“It is every year,” he said. “I don’t think you go into the season saying you’re going to be in the state championship game, but our objective is to keep getting better each week and give ourselves a chance. I always look at as win six (games) and then start playing well at the end of the year, but if you asked any of the kids right now, they’d say they want to get back there and finish the job.”

The Hornets have several key returners on the team in 2015, including starting quarterback and Virginia Tech commit Josh Jackson, who was selected to the State Champs! preseason top 10 list.

Jackson said that after the experience of playing in the state championship game, he and his teammates are motivated to not only equal last year’s success, but win a state title as well.

“Definitely, because now we want to go there and finish, because we came up a little short last year,” he said. “That’s really our goal and we have a chip on our shoulder for that, just to be better than we were last year and win states.”

Also returning for Saline in 2015 will be Jackson’s top target, receiver Jeb Palka as well as senior offensive linemen Alex Bromley, Tyler Schzran and Brandon Brown as well as junior tight end Bryce Wolma and junior defensive end Sean O’Keefe.

Joe Palka said that getting practice started again on Monday was great for the players and coaches, while adding he felt his squad had a good first day of practice.

“Coaches and I think players are creatures of habit,” he said. “We love being in that two-a-day routine, the practice routine, go to practice, watch tape and get better. Everybody felt good about being out here today.”

Last season, Saline finished with a 13-2 record overall, with its only losses coming to Clarkston and the Division 2 runner-up, Muskegon Mona Shores.

Jackson said that the way he and his teammates look at this fall, anything but a state championship would mean the season would be less than a success.

“It would mean a lot, last year was a really big year because we were the best team in Saline football history,” he said. “So technically, if we don’t win states, it’s a failed season, so that’s our way of looking at it and we’re going to go at it this year.”

Palka said that he senses the expectation for his team being a state title, but said that he and his coaching staff will need to help put his players in the best possible position to do that.

“I do think that out of all of the kids that are here, but whether we’re capable of doing that is another story,” he said. “But from a mentality standpoint, that’s exactly where they’re at. They’re very businesslike, they’ll do whatever it takes to get there and our job as coaches is to get this team developed so they have a chance to get there.”

Saline opens up the 2015 season on Friday, August 28th at home against Rockford.