Most teams coming off a 10-3-2 season would think they had been successful.
But for a team like Oakland Mills, accustomed to winning a state championship every other year, last season's failure to win one left the players with an empty feeling.
Six returning seniors are determined to right what went wrong last year, when the Scorpions lost to Glenelg in the state Class 2A semifinals.
They have led an off-season weight-lifting program to beef up a team that was smaller than average.
It's too soon to tell if the new strength and weight will pay off, but most players are checking in bigger and more confident.
Senior striker Teddy Lawler, who scored 11 goals and had four assists last season, is up to 156 pounds. The all-state, all-South fourth-year varsity player is expected to be one of the county's premier scoring threats.
Senior striker Marques Holmes scored four goals last season, and is also a talented four-year player who has been a member of the Olympic Development Program regional pool.
Senior Brent Mascott, another four-year varsity player, gives the Scorpions strength at midfield.
Rob Severn, a senior fullback, also has played four years and was a member of the 1990 state championship team.
Two remaining senior lettermen are strikers Brent Semcock and Chris Brown.
Five juniors look like starters, including fullback Keith Murphy who gained 16 pounds in the off-season and weighs 151. He'll be joined on defense by stopper Mike Jenkins.
Junior Kevin Gardner will start at midfield, along with Matt Sutton.
Junior Kyle Stephens will start at goalkeeper. He has gone from 128 pounds to 158 pounds and grown five inches to 6 feet 2.
Sophomore Zuri Barnes will start at midfield. He's gained 12 pounds and is at 167.
Oakland Mills lacks depth this season, with only 35 players for varsity and junior varsity.
The Scorpions will play 11 games instead of the normal 12 because of scheduling difficulties.
"I'm guardedly optimistic," coach Don Shea said. "We have to avoid injuries, and our starters have to play the entire game without subs."
Shea is upbeat about the addition of junior varsity coach Brian Boussy, whom Shea once coached. Boussy, one of Oakland Mills' best goalkeepers, is training the keepers.
Shea also is pleased to have another former player, Jeff Dickinson, as an unpaid coach. Dickinson was a very strong player in the air and is concentrating on coaching that area of play.
"We have a real nice starting 11 and will be competitive in the county, and usually that's OK," Shea said.