ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — 2021 was a tale of two seasons for William Fleming football. The spring saw the Colonels go 6-3 with a run to the Class 5 state semifinals. But the fall saw them go the opposite direction with a 3-7 campaign. The crew on Ferncliff is eager to return to their winning ways in 2022 by overcoming close losses last season.

“3-4 of those games we lost by a touchdown or less so it could’ve went either way,” said William Fleming senior wide receiver Jailen Robinson. “Close losses you know, it hurts seeing all my seniors sad, crying, and that’s pretty much my motivation is the seniors that was before me I feel like I have to continue what they instilled in me,” said William Fleming senior offensive guard Jayden Bulow.

Head coach Jamar Lovelace says there were a lot of lessons learned from those narrow defeats of 2021.

“I think every football coach can look back at the season and they can say you take away six or seven plays and every team might be able to flip a couple wins from a couple losses,” said Lovelace.

The key to avoid repeating those mistakes is to finish….a lesson Lovelace is hoping his players can apply off the field.

“Just finishing every single thing that we do. Leave nothing undone. We talk all the time about you know if your mom asked you to clean your room. You don’t wanna just sweep the trash under the bed. You really wanna clean that thing. Last year, we swept under the bed a bit too much,” said Lovelace.

Lovelace entering his fifth year at the helm with the Colonels. Though his time has only produced one winning season at William Fleming — his players have noticed the long term progress the program has made under his leadership.

“I think we really need somebody that cares a whole bunch about the team or the organization. Not just with football but with grades. He changed all that around. I think we really needed that,” said Robinson.

Now the Colonels look to show they’ve learned from the pain of the past.

“The goals for this season is really just to silence all the naysayers. There’s a lot of things that are said about William Fleming that I feel I don’t appreciate,” said Bulow. “We’re going to clean up our own discipline and play hard and focus on finishing every game,” said Lovelace.