HUTTO, Texas - The Hutto Hippos are heading into the season as a state ranked 5A program led by a UCLA bound quarterback.
Senior running back Chux Nwabuko III says, "This year we're coming with some real fire power."
Some of the fire power of course will come from one of the state's top quarterbacks, and UCLA commit, quarterback Chase Griffin who says, "We're a team that can be a force."
Griffin and Nwabuko III are two starters that are back and that helped the team average more than 40 points a game last season.
"At one time I think we scored in the first half 20 some possessions in a row. And we expanded the score against some teams and played really really well. To the point where our starters were pulled out in the third and fourth quarter," Hutto head football coach Brad LaPlante says.
A lot of the focus this season will be on Griffin.
"I've always been very zeroed in on my goals, but the closer you get to them the more pressure there is," Griffin says. "And I feel like each year I'm getting better with handling that pressure. So that I can just go out there be as confident as I can be, and rely on my training."
Coach LaPlante says, "I've never seen a guy for three years work as hard as somebody as him. He's a good example for all of us."
A good example and someone his teammates say they don't have concerns about.
"I'm so confident with Chase. You don't have to worry about anything," Nwabuko III says. "He's gonna make the throws. He's gonna make the plays. He's gonna make the right play call. Chase is just great."
Griffin isn't just super talent on the field but off it as well. He ranks in the top five of his class and has a chance to be the school's valedictorian. He also has a few offers from Ivy League schools to play college ball.
Which does Griffin think is the harder challenge: winning a state football championship or becoming the school's valedictorian?
"I have more fun playing football than really anything else. So that really takes the toughness out of it," Griffin says. "As far as in school I'm graduating early. So it will be tough to get that valedictorian spot. But I'm gonna have fun with both. Excellence in everything is my key."
Griffin's attitude about his on and off field endeavors is leaving an impression on his teammates.
"Everybody looks up to him. Not just because of what he's done on the football field, but he sets the tone in school for us. Being how smart he is, number two or three in his class. That pushes us to be as great as we can in school and on the football field," junior defensive back Brock Bujnoch says.
The Hippos say they're not expecting anything but to win.
"We know what we have," Griffin says. "I can honestly say that I go into every single game believing that we're the best team in the state. Number one."
"We're gonna make it happen," Nwabuko III says.