head football coach Jeff Rotsky said the end to last season was tough.
"It was a rough, rough way to finish when we had a chance to win that ballgame," Rotsky said.
Cleveland Heights progressed to the playoffs, but to powerhouse St. Edward, the 2010 state champion.
But no one discounts the historic season the team and coaches delivered to the football program. The Tigers won the Lake Erie League title and produced the in the school’s history.
Now Rotsky says the players are focused and the community is still showing support — they had the biggest crowd at a scrimmage ever on Thursday Aug. 16 when they played Benedictine.
"(I'm) cautiously optimistic that we’ve prepared these boys to do what they need to do," Rotsky said.
And they have "very skilled athletes" from last year on the team such as wide receivers Shelton Gibson and Dorien Hudson.
But Rotsky said the league is "brutal," and listed off some big games on — Euclid, Warren G. Harding, Maple Heights and Bedford.
The season officially begins tonight at 7 at a home game against St. John's Jesuit High School and Academy.
"This is going to be a true battle," he said. "Our schedule is going to be very competitive, and hopefully we’re up to the task."
The other challenging aspect of the season will be the home field.
"Our field is not a good field. It just is what it is," he said. "Our grounds crew does a great job of making chicken soup out of not a great situation."
Rotsky said the team doesn't feel pressured to live up to the success of last year.
"I think it’s an expectation for themselves. When you get a taste of something good, you want more of it. For the first time in many of these kids lives they were put on a pedestal and they earned it … They have tremendous goals and expectations and they’ve worked very hard.
"I'm just hoping we can continue to grow as a program and have our kids be very successful, humbly ... If you're really good, you don't need to tell anybody. They'll know by how you act and react."
2012 Cleveland Heights Schedule*
Friday 8/24 ST. JOHN'S JESUIT HS & ACADEMY, 7 p.m.
Saturday 9/1 JOHN ADAMS HS (playing at John Carroll University), 1:30 p.m.
Saturday 9/8 at East HS (Youngstown), 2 p.m.
Friday 9/14 at Bedford HS, 7 p.m.
Friday 9/21 MAPLE HEIGHTS HS, 7 p.m.
Friday 9/28 EUCLID HS, 7 p.m.
Friday 10/5 at Warrensville Heights HS, 7 p.m.
Friday 10/12 at Warren G. Harding HS, 7 p.m.
Friday 10/19 LORAIN HS, 7 p.m.
Friday 10/26 SHAW HS, 5 p.m.
*Home games in UPPERCASE. The schedule is subject to change throughout the season.