BROOMFIELD — If high schools were in the business of jersey sponsorship deals, the Broomfield Eagles could make a fortune on a partnership with Target.
Jim Davidson and his team are coming off a storied run to the Class 5A title, are beginning the 2015 year atop the polls and are doing it all with the target firmly planted on their backs.
"The guys understand that the bulls-eye is on our back and it is fairly big, but the key is that we don't make it too big on ourselves," Davidson said. "We know we are going to be under pressure from a lot of teams and there are a lot of good and capable teams and the league is really deep."
The pressure might be ramped up a little bit more if Davidson was entering the season with a totally revamped roster, but instead he graduated just five seniors and the team that hoisted the trophy last season against Boulder returns primarily intact.
"I've had teams win state titles before and that year after was really difficult because I think sometimes young players have a tendency to put too much pressure on themselves," Davidson continued. "And sometimes it just adds pressure."
Broomfield scored 33 goals last season and players that accounted for 29 of those are back, including the team's leading scorer Porter Milner. Also back are Cody Ewing, Armando Ocampo, Riley Shea and Luke Cangilla.
"It's about consistency and playing at a high level," said Milner, whose penalty kick in the 45th minute of the state title game against Boulder was the game-winner. "We all know we can't take anything lightly this year and it is going to be a lot tougher than it was last year.
"We just can't make the targets that big."
And it is a group that as endured the pressure before. The Eagles were in a fight just to make the playoffs last year after going 2-3-1 down the stretch and needed a win against Monarch in the season finale just to cement their spot.
It was possibly the stretch that defined what they were all about last season for a team that many thought was a year ahead of schedule with its talented junior class.
"It's not like it was easy. We had our struggles and we had our failures and that was really good for us," Davidson said. "We just played lights out at the right time."
Said Milner: "Humility is a big part of it. Last year was great, but it is a new year and yeah, we are expecting to do well. We don't think we can just come out and destroy the competition. Knowing where we are with our game and improving on that is key."
Also back for the Eagles is goalie Michael Genge, who was brilliant during the playoff run. He allowed just one goal to Fairview in the semifinals and according to Davidson, it will be an even more defensive-minded team in front of him this season.