It takes a team effort. It always does.
That may never be more true than this season for the Petoskey High School football team.
The Northmen are looking to continue their recent run of success as they defend their Big North Conference championship.
Petoskey is 34-8 over the past four years and has made the playoffs in each of those seasons. Three times in the last four years, Petoskey has won or shared the league title. Its last conference championship before 2008 came in 1998.
"That's definitely a team goal to continue what we've done the last few years," said VanOrman, who is in his 10th season as the Northmen head coach and 14th overall with the program. "We're going to have to be a stronger team than we were last year. When I say stronger, I just mean mentally together."
Last year, the Northmen finished 9-2 as Joe Robbins rewrote the record books, leading Petoskey to a Division 3 district championship game where they lost, 35-28, to eventual state runner-up Mount Pleasant.
Robbins, along with many others, is gone to graduation and is now at Grand Valley State University. He left a legacy as perhaps the best player ever to come out of Petoskey High School. He also spearheaded the latest chapter in Petoskey's recent surge.
Now, it's up to the 2012 team to write the next installment.
With success comes expectation, and the Northmen know they are marked.
"We talked to the kids about that," VanOrman said. "We said, 'Hey, you're a red-letter game for everybody. To beat us is a real feather in anybody's cap. That's a compliment to you, it really is.'
"But by the same token, you have to get that mental edge, that competitive edge, back. You can't ever think you can walk in and beat anybody, or just show up and win. That's not going to happen. That's a challenge for us, that's a challenge for this football team. We have to develop a team hunger that gives us that competitive edge."
It wasn't easy last season, but it perhaps looked that way in retrospect on many a Friday night.
The Northmen scored a school-record 378 points and held their opponents to 152. Six times they scored more than 30 points in a game, four times they eclipsed the 40-point mark, three times they went over 50, and their season-high came in a 63-24 blowout of Cadillac.
VanOrman will gladly take similar offensive explosions this season, but he isn't expecting it.
"We're going to have to play every game, every game's going to be tight," he said. "We're going to have to win with defense and ball control.
"Everybody loves to watch offense in this game, just like in basketball, but it's the great defenses that win big games."
Without the home-run threat they possessed in Robbins, the Northmen will lean offensively on what's worked so consistently well since VanOrman took over, a rock-solid run game.
"The one thing we have to do is we've got to be consistent in the backfield and take care of the football and sustain drives," said VanOrman, whose team is plus-66 in takeaway-to-giveaway ratio since the start of the 2008 season. "We can't afford penalties and turnovers. We always talk about that, but especially this year, that's going to be key. We have to play as perfect as we can a not beat ourselves."