Emporia enjoyed one of its best seasons in school history last year as the Spartans finished (9-2).
"It's a big team sport," Emporia senior linebacker Nick Nelson said. "We're looking to build a family here and create friendships and learn to play together."
The Spartans lost many talented offensive weapons from last year's team but new head coach P.J. Marstall said that defense could be Emporia's saving grace.
"Our defense is probably going to be the anchor for us this year with 8 returning starters," Marstall said. "Offense is making strides every day and looking better. Good group of kids and they're doing what we ask."
Emporia begins the season at home against Shawnee Heights.
"We lost some good guys last year but the next person steps in and they'll do the job," Emporia senior defensive end Austin Gordon said. "That's how we roll."