BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — The Raiders are motivated by the number three.

Last year, Bloomington won only three football games and the Raiders want that to change in a big way in 2023.

“Our goal is to be more competitive than we were last year, 3-6 is not where we want to be or anywhere near our expectations,” said head coach Scott Godfrey.

He already likes where his team is headed this preseason and the Raiders have a great starting point. They return all five of their starting offensive lineman.

“That 3-6 record isn’t really what we worked for last season,” said junior lineman Caiden Walls. “This season I feel like we are working a lot harder. We are putting in more hours, more effort. I think we are going to surprise a lot of people.”

There are roughly 85 players in the program, Godfrey says. And he says Bloomington returns eight starts on offense and nine on defense.

The Raiders have to tee it up in the rugged Big 12 Conference which sent five teams the to playoffs in 2022. But they feel they can compete this season.

“We need to keep our heads high and keep going. When adversity hits, I think that’s when the true side of us comes out,” said senior lineman Miguel Espindola. “I think we are going to overcome this year, no matter what comes at us.”

Bloomington hosts Richwoods in the season opener Aug. 25.