ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) — Hidden Valley had one of the hottest starts to the high school football season in 2021, winning the first six games of the season before eventually finishing with a 7-4 record. This year, a small group of seniors look to step up as leaders in a big way for the Titans.

“It’s football,” head coach Scott Weaver said. “Friday nights in Southwest Virginia are important and our kids know the aspect of that. And if you have to motivate your kids to play football, they’re in the wrong sport.”

Weaver’s team isn’t lacking in motivation but he does know that time is of the essence. So he’s not wasting any of it as Hidden Valley prepares for the upcoming season with the Titans focusing on the fundamentals in training camp.

“Last year we struggled to really run the ball,” Weaver said. “We were blessed to have some of the skilled guys that we had to throw it but we have to get back to being that fundamentally sound team that can run it down your throat. That’s our priority right now.”

Weaver says this season brings a new vibe with a virtually new team.

“I love all these guys,” senior running back Jadon LaTempa said. “Each one of them motivates me.”

LaTempa is one of only four seniors returning from last season.

“We’re just out here trying to make the team better,” LaTempa said. “Get everybody going to their full speed full potential and just get this team going to where we know they can be.”

And the running back knows he has to step up as a leader for his team, taking his cue from coach Weaver, who is in his 14th season at the helm.

“He really tells you the truth. He tells you how he feels and really wants to make you better,” LaTempa said. “I like to talk to the players like he does. Really take his time. Talk to them and get to know them and stuff so that’s what I took from him I guess.”

The new-look Titans building toward a familiar identity before their season opener against rival Cave Spring.

“Just a tough team that works hard,” Weaver said. “That’s what we want our identity to be. We want our kids to give it their all. We work our tails off and the results will come based on that.

“We’re young, we’re energetic and we’re getting after it. So that’s a good sign.”