EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - The Tigers ended their 2018 season with a heartbreaking loss at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Now in his 12th season as head coach, John Hurley looks to a tough senior class to keep the Memorial Tradition alive.
There’s a lot of new faces entering the 2019 season, but the Tiger mentality stays the same.
“We know we have to put in work every single week, every single day, every single practice, game, and we’re gonna continue to do that," said Mason Auker, senior tight end and linebacker.
“I anticipate our kids to do what they’ve always done which is compete, and hopefully we have fun with it," Coach Hurley said. "If we compete and have fun, hopefully, we come out on top more times than we don’t.”
This season Memorial is without their best offensive duo in program history.
Cincinnati and SIU’s newest roster additions, Michael Lindauer and Branson Combs, no doubt made their marks as Tigers, but they left even bigger holes to fill.
“We don’t have a 6′3” 215-pound guy out there running around catching balls, but we have got some guys with some experience. We’ve got some guys, it’s just whether we have enough guys to stay in and stay healthy week in and week out," Coach Hurley said.
Instead of being on the receiving end of Memorial’s offense this year, a familiar face plans to step up and make the plays himself.
“I think he’s done really well with the position that he’s in, coming back from, he played receiver last year, he didn’t play a lot of quarterback last year, he was the 2nd string, but I think he’s done really well and I think he’s gonna play well this year," said senior running back Finn McCool.
“You sit back and say ‘Oh we should’ve gotten him more snaps last year’, but when we pulled the starters, he was one of the starters, we’re excited to see how he grows and I think as the year goes on, you’ll see him gain confidence," said Coach Hurley.
Despite a tough regular season and brand new 4A Sectional, the Tigers are ready to use their success in the season’s past to fuel 2019.
“A lot of these guys have been on the big stage, and it brings expectations on their end as well. But they know it’s a process and the process has started back in the beginning of the year here," Coach Hurley said.
Regardless of who takes the field this fall, the team’s goals are nearly all the same.
“We’re gonna win week by week. Win the first game and that’s good for us," Auker said.
“All the way. That’s the goal, but take it one game at a time like always," McCool said.
“This is gonna be my 12th year," Coach Hurley said. "I can’t think of too many years where I stepped back and thought ‘hell, that wasn’t any good’, and so that’s what a successful year is gonna be. If you get caught up in wins and losses you’ll drive yourself nuts. I’m not gonna go to sleep worrying about how many wins or losses we got, I’m gonna worry about whether or not these kids believe in themselves and continue to compete.”