They excited the Weatherford community like folks haven't felt in years.
Yes, the Weatherford Kangaroos came up short of their first playoff appearance since 2007, but they were in the race up until the final game of the season.
They also posted the first non-losing season for the Kangaroos since 2009, finishing 5-5.
"It was a good season. I thought we turned some corners and played better from start to finish," said Kangaroos coach Weldon Nelms. "I saw our kids learn to fight through the adversity and play hard for the most part all four quarters.
"We were close on a couple of games and winning five was big for our program."
The Kangaroos were once again primarily a passing team, with senior quarterback Bryce Burks passing for 1,981 yards with 21 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
The return of senior running back Jeuqwan Brownlee made a big impact on the offense. He rushed for 847 yards with five TD, along with catching 16 passes for 181 yards and four TD.
Senior wide receiver Chase Warren led the team in receptions with 52 catches for 675 yards and eight touchdowns. Fellow senior Tyler Scoggin was next with 35 catches for 410 yards and four touchdowns, while junior Kotie McClendon hauled in 21 catches for 244 yards and three TD.
Perhaps the most notable improvement for Weatherford was defense. Yes, the Kangaroos gave up a fair amount of points on occasion, but overall they were much improved from the 2014 unit - many of who were the same players with less experience.
Senior linebackers Zach Mohr (77), Michael Green (68) and Robbie Carper (68) were the leading tacklers. Junior defensive end Jake Beaird was the sacks leader with seven, and junior defensive back Dylan Smith and junior defensive lineman Zach McKinney had two interceptions each.
"The defense was much-improved, and we will continue to look at things that help fit our kids both offensively and defensively," said Nelms. "The loss of coach (Dick) Smith, who is retiring, will be a big adjustment for me as we go forward. He was a great coach and great with the kids. He and I have coached side-by-side for 26 years, and we wish him well in retirement, but he will be missed."
The Kangaroos had combined for just four wins in Nelms' first two seasons combined, but optimism remained high. After all, he had won two state championships at Wimberley before coming to Weatherford.
In his second season the Kangaroos got off to their first 3-0 start in a couple of decades. Then, the bottom fell in and they went 0-7 in district. This season they started 2-0, lost to Grapevine, and were determined for a better showing in district.
Which they got. Weatherford entered the final game at Arlington Bowie needing to win by 11 points to reach the playoffs. They fell to the Volunteers, but even as they look ahead, hopes are already high.
"Our JV finished 4-5, and if we hadn’t gotten rained out we could have went 5-5, and we lost a couple we should have won," said Nelms. "Our ninth grade had two successful teams, the A team going 4-4-1 and the B Team going 7-2, and there are some good kids that will come up and help us in the future.
"We lost a very strong leadership of seniors and ones that played very hard for us."
The Kangaroos have five starters expected back on both offense and defense, along with 25 lettermen. That's a good nucleus.
"We will have to continue to improve in strength and size and maintain our numbers to continue to grow our program," said Nelms. "The new excitement the elevation of our competitiveness is exciting in moving forward."