Its a different year and a different team.
Thats the consensus among the Watertown Red and Black players and coaches, and they plan to continue proving that with tonights game against the Syracuse Shock at 7 at Fulton High School.
Last year, the Shock handed the Red and Black a 55-0 defeat at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds, one of the semipro football teams worst home losses in its 116-year history.
Syracuse then beat Watertown, 27-6, to end its season in the semifinals of the Empire Football League playoffs.
You got to move on, and I think this is a different team this year, said Jared Cook, the veteran center and one of the team captains. We have a good outlook on how were going to be prepared, and I have all the faith in the world that we can come out with a win.
Last years Red and Black squad lost its first four on-field games, and didnt earn its first victory until Aug. 20.
Watertown claimed its first win in its season opener, scoring 21 unanswered points in the final 11 minutes to beat Monroe County, 24-20, last Saturday.
The Red and Blacks 24 points scored is more than it had through those first four games last season.
Running back Joe Brennan and quarterback Brian Williams combined for 185 rushing yards last week, a total they reached just twice last year, in a pair of September games against two of the leagues bottom three teams.
Watertown turned the ball over once last Saturday, but in the 2011 season, it had five turnovers in each of its first three games and 19 total through four games.
Last year is last year, its an entirely different team this year, said Brennan, who ran for a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns last Saturday. I think this year, theres a lot more heart, a lot more commitment, and I think overall, its just a completely different team than last season.
The Shock, which lost its season opener to Monroe County on July 7, has many of its key weapons back from a year ago.
Justyn Hardwick is back, though he did not play two weeks ago. Hardwick ran for 207 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries in last years regular-season victory over the Red and Black.
DeWayne Gordon led the Shocks rushing attack in the season opener with 130 yards and a score on 19 carries. He returned a 55-yard interception for a touchdown last year against Watertown.
I think this year, the way this team looks so far, hopefully we can flip the script and put a bunch of points up on them and keep them down, linebacker Matt Kepler said. Im just really looking to get back at them for trying to embarrass us last year.
One new addition to the Shock is quarterback T.J. Sheard, who completed 13 passes for 146 yards and two touchdowns on July 7.
Syracuse is a very strong team again, theyre good, Watertown coach George Ashcraft said. Were just going to have play them like we played Monroe (last week), dont quit and keep on playing the game.