CHESAPEAKE, VA (WTKR)- Getting to the top of the mountain is one thing. Staying there is considered much more difficult. Oscar Smith has been on top for several years at this point and has turned itself into the area's most hunted.
Heat forced the Tigers indoors to kick off training camp, but being red-hot is something with which Oscar Smith is familiar. The Tigers have the biggest target on their backs, entering 2022 as back-to-back state champions and boasting a record of 35-3 over the course of Chris Scott's three year tenure as head coach.
"With the 'S' on the chest, we talk about standing on the shoulder of giants," Scott said. "Before I got here, there was an expectation to get there and now that I've been here, we've been there three years in a row."
Oscar Smith fell to South County in the 2019 state championship game before claiming back-to-back crowns.
"I love it," senior offensive lineman Tajh Boyd said of his team's recent stretch of success. "It just makes the competition work and when we blow them out, they see who the real dogs [are]."
The upcoming campaign will see the Tigers hit the field with a monumental achievement in its sights. No team in South Hampton Roads has ever won three consecutive state championships. While some programs may opt not to discuss December possibilities in August, Oscar Smith does not subscribe to that theory, staring down a three-peat with confidence.
"Every practice we talk about it," Boyd noted. "We just talk about how we can tell our grandkids and kids about how we made history."
"We do start with the mindset of our goal is to make it to game 15," Scott added. "This group collectively has been part of a group that's done it back to back and they're aware that that's where we want to get."
Scott is quick to point out that his squad is also very aware of what that takes to get there, starting in the offseason and going 1-0 each rep in practice beginning on day one. The Tigers also know that they have some holes to fill. Plenty experience returns on the roster, but Scott and company are looking to replace key pieces like quarterback Ethan Vasko, running back Kevon King and defensive back Sherrod Covil. The head coach expects that his team will reload rather than rebuild.
"We always have those diamonds in the rough, maybe that were not penciled in, but actually wanted to show everybody else that the had something to give and offer," Scott pointed out. "I'm excited to find those next guys."
Tradition, plus experience, plus fresh talent, plus work ethic, focus and commitment. It's an equation that the Tigers hope will add up to history. Will they be playing at Old Dominion in September for another state crown? The road to the answer has begun.
"This is definitely our legacy," said Boyd, who is part of a senior class that could wrap up high school as three-time state title winners. "We're going to remember this all the way until some of us are in the league, some of us working in the corporate. We're going to remember this."
"It means a lot here," Scott added. "Our fans show up every single week to let us know that, but it's something that would stand alone on creating a new bar here at Oscar Smith."
The Tigers kick off their season on August 26 when they host cross-town rival Deep Creek.