SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The Lincoln High School football team opens the season as the number five team in the 11AAA preseason rankings, following a 6-5 campaign in 2021. However, the Patriots look to take that next step this season, as they return plenty of experience.

The Lincoln Patriots have reached the 11AAA semifinals in back-to-back seasons, but have failed to reach the title game.

“Going into the semifinals last year and the year before that, we knew it was a big game. I just don’t think we were ready. I think two years ago, a few of us were sick with COVID, I’m not really sure, but we just need to stick together and keep playing,” Hindbjorgen said.

“Whether it’s the big leagues or it’s just little league football, it’s next play mentality. You’ve got to get on with it and focus, but you don’t ever forget it. You use that as fuel to fuel you to get better. I mean, we’re all hungry and we’re all ready to attack,” Gutierrez said.

The Pats return 14 starters and plenty of experience.

“We’re excited about what the future is going to hold, but in the same breath, we were 6-5. Even though it was a winning season and we played a lot of young kids, we really haven’t done anything yet,” Fredenburg said.

While the 2021 season wasn’t what Lincoln had hoped for, there is promise for this year. The Patriots return a talented junior class, who gained valuable experience as sophomores.

“The game is so fast and for a sophomore to have that kind of game reps and experience in a hectic environment, you just can’t replicate that,” Fredenburg said.

Lincoln has managed to improve their program over the past few seasons and they’re looking to continue that trend by improving each and every day.

“We’re getting 1% better every day. I say that every day, you’ve got to go get you 1%. You’ve got to be 1% better than you were yesterday and tomorrow, you’re going to be just a little bit better,” Fredenburg said.

“We’ve set a foundation. As freshman, we set a goal and we set a standard for ourselves that we’re going to be the hardest workers in the room. Optionals aren’t really optional and we’re going to get after it every single time we can. We’re not going to miss any opportunities this year,” Gutierrez said.

The Patriots will meet Roosevelt in their first game of the season. That contest is set to livestream on KELOLAND.com.

Kick-off is set for 7 p.m. on Friday, August 26.