Prior to Saturday night’s season opener, the Arizona Rattlers will celebrate their ArenaBowl championship one more time.
A banner will drop from the ceiling of the US Airways Center, joining two others which recognize titles won in 1994 and 1997.
Following pregame ceremonies, all talk of 2012 ends.
“Last year is over for us from a mental standpoint,” head coach Kevin Guy said at the team’s annual media day Wednesday. “We physically and mentally got to get dialed in to this season.”
The season begins against the Philadelphia Soul, a rematch of the ArenaBowl title game played in New Orleans. The Rattlers won, 72-54.
“I’m not going to run around and talk about repeating,” Guy said. “That’s not really where our mindset is. This is a completely different team from last year.”
Guy, entering his fifth season as head coach and general manager, said there’s been more than a 40 percent turnover in the roster. He believes this year’s squad is deeper and more athletic than last year’s championship team.
“We kept our core group of guys together that we won a championship with,” Guy said, “but at the same time, we wanted to try to upgrade in some areas as well.”
There was no need to upgrade the quarterback position. Starter Nick Davila returns for his fourth season.
Despite soreness in an elbow that underwent surgery the year before, Davila passed for the third-most yards and fourth-most touchdowns in the league last season. He tied an ArenaBowl record with nine touchdowns.
“I feel good,” he said. “I feel like I’m in my prime. I’m like a fine wine: I get better as I get older.”
Complacency, according to Davila, is not an option — for him or for the team.
“As a competitor you always want to strive for more,” he said. “For me, individually, the most important ring to me is the next one. Everyone loves winners and that’s what it’s about.”
Said Guy, “Our mindset is going to be that we don’t have the target on our back. The target is going to still be on their back. We’re going to be the hunters. We’re going to go after them. We’re going to be aggressive. We’re still going to be in attack mode. That’s where our mindset is going to be.
“We built the type of team here that we’re big, we’re physical,” he continued. “Win, lose or draw when they get through playing us we want them to say, ‘Hey, I don’t want to see that team again.'”