YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – With less than three weeks until the Youngstown State football team kicks off at Stambaugh Stadium, the excitement around the locker room is continuing to build.

“That’s the one thing our kids say, ‘Coach, you don’t have to get us fired up, our kids love playing football, they love competing, they love going against each other,” Youngstown State Head Coach Doug Phillips said. “What you see on a Saturday we see on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, but it’s a process, we sell that process that one day at a time and what we need to do to get better come Monday.”

On Saturday, the team took part in a scrimmage that featured over 100 plays run between the first, second, third and fourth teams. Head coach Doug Phillips wanted to ramp up the intensity as the opener on August 31 quickly approaches.

“The defense I thought really rose up, there’s 25 guys that played in those games last year and that defense ball so that’s expectation,” Phillips said. “Not only that, it gets our offense better if we can block them and execute plays against our defense, I feel confident going into the season that we can do that against our opponents.”

The defense really stuck out as a strength during the scrimmage, a unit that both sides of the ball and the coaching staff are all high on entering the new year with returning playmakers.

“We’re trying to play fast, physical, still got a lot of work to do, but we’re taking the right steps each day, so we’re trying to keep going,” YSU defensive lineman Anthony Johnson said. “Be the best defense in the country, we chasing the national championship this year.”

“Every single day I truly believe our offense is going against the best defense in football, and I truly believe our defense is going against one of the best offenses that’s in football,” YSU quarterback Mitch Davidson said. “So again, iron sharpens iron, we’re getting better day by day and it’s shown for sure.”

And after settling in, the offense showed big play ability with returning starter Davidson and former Springfield standout Beau Brungard, who took second-team reps.

“I think once we got settled in, Bryce Oliver making big plays, it’s great having CJ Charleston back, he scored a touchdown today kind of kind of just toss went up to him and it’s great to have the playmakers out here, Tyshawn King looked amazing today,” Davidson said. “With that being said you know the O-line, I mean, they looked incredible there too. They’re going up against one of the best d-lines in FCS football every single day and I think they are they showed tremendous strides today.”

The Penguins will host Valporasio on Thursday, August 31 at 7:30 pm and Davidson, a Salem grad, has a message for Penguins fans.

“I truly believe coming out against Valparaiso it’s going to be it’s going to be a show man, it’s going to be fun, exciting football in Youngstown,” Davidson said. “We’re gonna spread the ball around our defense, going fly around, make plays