APPOMATTOX, Va. (WDBJ7) The Appomattox County Raiders might have been there and done that, when it comes to winning two consecutive 2A state championships, but you better believe they're happy to be in the mix once again.
Doud Smith, Appomattox Head Coach: "I think every coach wants to be playing around Thanksgiving and into December. It's a dream come true for a lot of coaches, and we don't ever take it for granted."
De'Von Graves, Appomattox Senior Wide Receiver: "It's a blessing. Not many people can say they made it to the state semifinals three years in a row. Not many people can say that they made it once.
But it hasn't been all smooth sailing for Appomattox this year. In fact, their 32-game winning streak was snapped in week three by the Heritage Pioneers. But the Raiders say, they turned a negative situation into a positive.
Javon Scruggs, Appomattox Senior Quarterback: "It took a toll on us, but it told us that if we don't practice like we should practice and the way that we're known to practice, then those kind of things will happen on the field. So that loss helped us build our confidence even more."
De'Von Graves: "It made us more hungry. Despite what everyone else says about losing the streak, it really doesn't matter. A streak is a streak. What we want to do, is we want to win championships."
And the team is well on their way again, riding a brand new 10-game winning streak, that included a big win on the road last week in the regional championship against Glenvar.
Omar Bailey, Appomattox Junior Running Back: "I believe that we gained a lot of confidence from that game because Glenvar was a pretty good team. And I think that away game is going to get us prepared for the next away game that we have to go to."
Doug Smith: "I think anytime you play on the road, it's always a challenge. Our kids made that trip last week, and they did a good job. But no excuses, we just didn't feel like we've played our best football yet. We're still growing. This team's getting better and better, and our kids know how much better we can be if we just put it all together."
And the Raiders will need to put it all together on Saturday, going on the road again to meet undefeated 13-0 Union, a team they beat in the postseason just last year.
De'Von Graves: "They're a great team, you know, they could beat us. But I feel like our unity, and stuff like that, I don't think they have the unity that we do."
Omar Bailey: "We're going to do what we always do, bring the intensity, bring the heat, we're going to bring it. So it does nothing, us going away. It doesn't really have an effect on us. We're just going to play our game. As long as we play our game and do what we have to do, we're going to be alright."
And Coach Smith says their experience winning big games like this in the past, will only help them from here on out.
Doug Smith: "I think our kids know what to expect this week. They already know. They already have it in their mind, it's already happened for them before. But they also know that every game is a new game, every year's a new year, every play's a new play. And so, they also can't get comfortable."
And it's that ability to stay uncomfortable, that continues to push the Raiders onward and upward, together as a team.
Omar Bailey: "Coach Smith pushes us hard to bring this unity together that we have, to come as one as we're playing. It just helps us build that unity together, us working hard everyday."
Doug Smith: "It would mean, to many of these kids, that what we've been teaching ever since they got here, that their hard work and coming together, and believing in the right things, and doing the right things, can pay off bigger than you could ever imagine. And great things will happen if we pull together."