For the Fenton football team the message heading into Friday's season opener against Leyden was one heard frequently around the sports world.
"We're doing a lot of rebuilding, we've got a new coach this year and we just have to trust the process and get better every week," junior running back Dylan Butts said.
Miguel Cooper and Leyden's motto was pretty straightforward: atonement.
On the second play from scrimmage, Cooper intercepted a pass and returned it 5 yards for a touchdown as the Eagles opened the season with a 42-9 win.
It was one of two interceptions Leyden (1-0) returned for touchdowns.
"I actually dropped two pick-6s last year," Cooper said. "Coach has kind of made fun of me all year and I kind of redeemed myself. (I) knew it was going to come eventually, but not that soon."
The Bison (0-1), wanted to avoid a repeat of last season's performance against the Eagles, when Leyden scored on its first seven possessions of the game.
It looked liked they were ready to flip the script.
Fenton converted first downs on successive plays in its ensuing drive, moving the ball 38 yards. However, Leyden stopped the Bison on three plays, which forced a punt.
"We were feeling pretty good," Butts said.
The defense looked good, too. The Bison defense forced back-to-back three-and-outs on Leyden's first two offensive possessions, limiting the Eagles to minus-5 yards of offense on 6 plays.
"The kids did what they were told and did what they were told," first-year Fenton coach Matthew Lynch said.
After forcing a punt Leyden took over possession at the Fenton 46-yard line, and on its first play of the drive, Kyler Britten connected with Robert Elem on a bubble screen for 31 yards. Two plays later, Gabriel Guarderas scored on a 4-yard run, the first of his three touchdowns.
"It was a good win," Leyden coach Tom Cerasani said. "It was a good first game for us. We need to be a lot better next week playing Downers Grove North."
On Fenton's ensuing possession the Bison drove the ball 21 yards to their 42-yard line. Elem killed the Bison drive.
The senior made an interception on the Eagles 49, sprinted up the left sideline, cut inside, ran up the middle, before cutting back out and crossing the end zone down the right sideline.
Even Elem was surprised he scored on the play.
"I honestly didn't (think I'd score)," Elem said. "I thought I was going to get tackled, then when I saw the opening, I just cut across."
Defensively, Cerasani and the Eagles will take a repeat performance next week.
"Obviously the picks for touchdowns are huge," Cerasani said. "We'll take that."
Fenton will look to build on their performance and carry into next week's game against Shepard.
"We just had really good effort," Butts said. "We tried our hardest. We never laid over, just a lot of little tuning up we have to do for next week.
"We're not down on ourselves. It's over and we just have to move on.