CHESAPEAKE (WAVY) – Coming off a 12-win season a spot in the Class 6 state semifinals, expectations are high for Western Branch.

While high-impact players such as CJ Fraser (Richmond), Paul Billups (UNC) and Shamique Blizzard (NC A&T) have moved on, head coach Rashad Cook appears to have a lot of depth on his squad.

He had more than 100 players try out for the team this year.

Last season, the Bruins had some big moments. They lost to rival Oscar Smith 2-0 in October, but they avenged that loss in the playoffs by eliminating the Tigers 28-14.

The Bruins lost to eventual state champion Freedom in the state semis.

But this is a new season, and with that comes a new identity.

“I think it’s important to understand that each year is going to be a different level and caliber of student athlete that we get to work with and develop and coach,” Cook said. “This year we are working through our preseason trying to figure out what is the identity of this team but we are getting close to what it may look like.”

The players on the Bruins are now a part of a culture that is used to winning and while a state championship is the ultimate goal, they don’t appear to be getting ahead of themselves.

“It’s a lot of big expectations,” Devin Cook (WR/CB) said. “We want to go 1-0 each week and go further than we did last year. We have a lot of young talent and I feel like we can get it done.”

Western Branch opens the season at home on August 24th against Menchville.