The Knights are 9-10 over the last two seasons. An incredible accomplishment considering how they struggled the previous 20 years. This 2014 team could be ready to make another big leap and challenge for the conference championship.
"We want it all. We’re all in. We’re ready to go," says quarterback Christian Lopez.
Lopez proved last year that he can make plays with his arm and his legs. He might be the fastest player in the conference. He was the NIC-10’s 100 meter champion in track. He has playmakers to work with. Leading receivers Juwane Parchman and Elvis Miller are back, and having a year as a starter under his belt can only help Lopez.
"The experience really helps. I know what to look for. I know what the pace is like," he says.
Juniors Vonteze Fricks and Elisha Ford take over at running back.
The Knights have six starters back on both sides of the ball. Anchoring the defense will be the Knight’s leading tackler from last season junior Alfonso Lambert, and muscular Bryce Johnson will be a major factor all over the field.
"He’s going to start obviously at tackle like he has been, and we’re going to also use him on specials, and he'll get some time at noseguard," says Appino. "He’s a specimen. He’s a kid you don’t see often."
The Knights were 4-5 last year. Three of those losses were by a single point. Those heartbreakers hurt at the time, but the Knights could be a better team now because of them.
"This year we’re going to finish out games, because last year I know it broke all the seniors hearts we losing three, four games by one point, but this year we’re going to finish it out," says Lambert.
"Part of it was it’s kind of a test of the confidence we’re building here at Auburn in ourselves," says Appino. "How strong are we? How good can we be? We’ve got a really good group of seniors who really work hard. They want to have something special this year."