APPLETON (WLUK) -- Last year, Xavier was a 5-5 team that didn't draw much attention, especially after losing in Level 1 of the playoffs.
But this year should be different and that was on display in the season opener last week. The Hawks beat New London on the road, 41-7, serving notice Xavier is ready to make noise in 2020.
"I wasn't surprised," coach Dave Hinkens said. "We have a very good senior class. Most of these kids started as sophomores and juniors.
"We got 10 kids back on our defense, eight back on our offense. We have very high expectations this year."
"A lot of us have started since our sophomore year," senior Marc Utrie said. "Our team is no doubt going to be one of the best this year and I think we can beat most teams, for sure."
Xavier is off to a hot start, but it's been cold against its main rival, Fox Valley Lutheran, which it hosts Friday in the Game Time Game of the Week. The Foxes have won four straight games in the Apple Bowl and the Hawks are well aware of that.
"This Friday, I think will be everything for us," Utrie said. "We win that game and think most of us would be incredibly happy with our senior year. Even after that we're going to say we won the Apple Bowl, we deserve it, if we win, and we're just going to keep going for sure."
FVL lost its season opener at Little Chute, 28-13, but Hinkens has great respect for his rival.
"They have a crazy athletic quarterback (Drew Mears) that can throw the ball," he said. "He's got a great arm, good receivers; really good-skilled kids all over. Typical FVL football team.
"We're going to have to somehow limit their big-play opportunities."
Hinkens also has to limit his team's emotions.
"I don't want our kids overhyped," he said. "I want to just manage this like any other game, but it's not any other game. I'd be lying to you if I said it was. It's a huge game for us and just trying to keep our emotions on check and worry about the next play."
The next play kicks off the Apple Bowl.
Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay