FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) – It’s a new year with a brand new field at Fayetteville State University, but the overall goal for the Broncos football team always remains the same.

“Our goals are the same,” said head coach Richard Hayes. “We want to win the southern division. We want to win the CIAA, make it to the NCAA playoffs, and win a national championship.”

Senior defensive back Elvin De La Rosa summed it up best:

“It’s either championship or bust, and we ain’t trying to bust.”

The Broncos look like they have the talent to make a run for the big prize. They return 17 starters from a team that almost won a conference championship in 2019, falling just short in the CIAA title game.

“I like this team. I like the overall athleticism,” Hayes said. “We have a lot of experience returning on both offense and defense. It’s just about us fine-tuning where we are. It’s only two days into camp so I’m pretty pleased with where we are.”

In 2019, the Broncos put up 382 points in 11 games, scoring 51 touchdowns. Leading the Broncos’ prolific offense this year is quarterback K’Hari Lane.

“You’re going to see an offense that executes both passing and running,” Lane said. “We won’t be lopsided and we won’t be one-sided. We’re going to execute and we’re going to keep our defense in a good position.”

Speaking of the defense, the Broncos are loaded with fourth- and fifth-year players. That side of the football will be leaned on heavily to hold things down early in the season.

“A lot of big hits, a lot of communication, a lot of turnovers,” De La Rosa said of what fans can expect. “We’re trying to be No. 1 in the nation. We’re trying to lead the conference. We’re trying to lead the nation.”

“They understand how we want to do things the Fayetteville State way,” Hayes added. “They understand what the standard is on defense, running to the football, creating turnovers and being opportunistic.”

This veteran presence brings up an interesting dilemma. In the off-season, the Broncos welcomed three new defensive coaches to the team. Dominic Anderson is the new defensive coordinator. James Lott oversees the secondary, and Jada Brown works with the defensive line. They are all top-notch guys, but it marks one of the few times the coaches are playing catch up to the players.

“They have to get acclimated to the style of Fayetteville State,” Hayes said. Those guys are trying to build continuity on the defensive side of the ball. The players have been there so its the coaches we’re working on.”

Fayetteville State opens up Sept. 4 against Elizabeth City State in the 24th Down East Viking Football Classic.