That seemed to be what the Lakeland Dreadnaughts were saying this season. Sure they've been ranked each year since winning their last state title in 2006, often times in the top five.
Winning a state title, however, remained out of Lakeland's grasp for the past dozen years. First there was the embarrassing loss to St. Thomas Aquinas in the 2008 state championship game.
Then there was three consecutive losses in the state semifinals.
Then they couldn't get out of regionals, including having back-to-back first-round losses. The Dreadnaughts even failed to win the district title in back-to-back years in 2012 and 2013.
A seventh state title seem further and further from their grasp despite having highly ranked teams since 2014.
Then came 2018, a team hyped with college prospects on defense and a highly touted running back along with two top seniors on offense in tight end Keon Zipperer and Deyavie Hammond.
They talked since preseason of wanting to win a state title, and as it turned out, it wasn't just talk.
"This football team is special," Lakeland coach Bill Castle said. "They had a dominating year all year, the way they've played together as a family and unit. I'm just proud of them."
So what made this team special?
Victories over traditional powers Manatee and Apopka were positive first steps in what became a championship season, but they had big regular-season wins in the past only to fall short in the playoffs. With all due respect to Winter Haven and Kathleen, it was apparent early that winning the district title was just a matter of fact.
The Dreadnaughts couldn't even think of winning a state title until they beat Plant in the playoffs, and when that happened in decisive fashion 49-30, well now you can start talking about state titles.
So again, what made this year's team special?
Let's take a look at the championship game. Lakeland likely wanted to get off to a fast start but went backward on the first series then gave the Raiders great field position on their first series.
The defense, however, stepped up and made big stops on St. Thomas' first possession.
Lakeland then had a 74-yard touchdown pass to Zipperer called back. That could be a devastating blow for many teams against a team like St. Thomas.
"I think it gave us confidence just knowing we could do it against a team like that," Castle said. "Their defense is so good. Even though it was called back, it was, hey, we can do this."
Sure enough, on Lakeland's next possession, Bowman showed that not even the Raiders' vaunted defense could stop him. He went 80 yards for a touchdown.
The Raiders forced Lakeland to punt on its first two possessions then never stopped Lakeland again. After the second punt, Lakeland's possessions went touchdown, field goal, fumble, touchdown, field goal, touchdown, fumble and touchdown. One of the touchdowns was Fenley Graham's kickoff returns.
Castle said it was a team effort and sure enough contributions came from everywhere.
Jaharie Martin got his typical short-yardage yards and scored two touchdowns.
Quarterback Dywonski McWilliams rushed for just 29 yards but 24 came on a third-and-8 on a drive that ended with Jace Hohenthaner's field goal that put Lakeland up 10-0.
McWilliams also completed a 68-yard pass to Chris Howard on third-and-25 that set up another field goal by Hohenthaner that put Lakeland up by six in the third quarter, 20-14.
Zipperer had a pass go off his helmet on that drive on third down that would have at least given first-and-goal, if not a touchdown.
Zipperer, however, came up big early in the fourth quarter on defense.
St. Thomas had third-and-8 at the Lakeland 10, trailing by 12. Zipperer sacked Curt Casteel to set up fourth-and-12. Casteel then threw an incompletion, one of three times the Raiders got inside the 20 and failed to score.
Defensively, indeed, it was a team effort with six players with six or more total tackles, led by Khalil Crawford's nine total tackles. Crawford, Quadir Hall, who made back-to-back, game-saving tackles, Lloyd Summerall, Latrell Jean, A.J. Thomas and Zipperer were all in on the six tackles for loss, four of which were sacks.
Getting big plays from the big-name, college prospects isn't enough to win a state title. It's worth noting that the two players who led Lakeland in solo tackles were Hall and Teshawn Nixon.
Most importantly, they played with confidence.
"Honestly, we came in and we knew we were better than they were," Crawford said. "We knew our heart was more into it than them."
Teamwork, confidence, heart — in the end, that's what made the team special.
So while St. Thomas has vaulted past Lakeland in total championships — the Raiders lead 10-7 — the Dreadnaughts victory was no fluke. The Dreadnaughts showed they continue to own St. Thomas in championship games, now having defeated the Raiders five of out six times for the title. And their message to St. Thomas was clear.
Roy Fuoco can be reached at email@example.com or at 863-802-7526. Follow him on Twitter: @RoyFuoco.