YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Youngstown State University football team is coming off its best season in seven years and returning most of that group that narrowly missed the playoff last year.

Watch the video above to hear from the team as they get ready for Thursday’s home opener against Valparaiso.

The Penguins were downright dominant at home last season, winning five of their six games at Stambaugh Stadium.

“A good team last year. This year, we’re looking to be great,” said Penguins junior lineman Chris Fitzgerald. “We’re looking to put another banner out there with the rest of them.”

“Last year, we were good, but the fact that we missed the playoffs left that doubt,” said Penguins senior tight end Jake Benio. “Nothing’s changed. We’re the same team — just got to keep going and going. The goal this year is to leave, no doubt.”

“We talk about what does it take to be good… to great? Five and three in our league, that’s good. It’s probably not great,” said YSU head coach Doug Phillips. “We want to make people proud of what we put on the field, how we play the game, how we prepare for the game, and winning does that. That’s what winning does. It gets the community excited, and that’s what we want to be able to create. We want people to say, ‘Man, we’re proud of those kids and how they represent this community.’ And hopefully, that drives people into our stands. And, you know, it starts with us and putting a good product on the field.”

The last time YSU played Valparaiso was in 2018. and they beat the Crusaders 42-7. Kickoff for the home opener is set for Thursday at 7:30 p.m.