Sunnyvale is riding a nine-game regular season winning streak heading into the new campaign.
Ironically, the Raiders last regular season loss came in the 2017 finale against Kemp, who they will face at 7 p.m. Friday at Yellow Jacket Stadium.
Sunnyvale has made five consecutive playoff appearances and has won four district championships and compiled a record of 49-10 during that span.
They are well-equipped to continue that success.
Reigning district most valuable player Tripp McAda is back and could be saving the best for his senior season. Last year, McAda threw for 1,701 yards and 15 touchdowns, while adding 1,104 yards and 24 scores on the ground.
Junior Noah McDill is the leading returning receiver after catching 24 passes for 476 yards and three touchdowns and sophomore Max McAda also made some nice contributions late in the year.
In addition to Tripp McAda, junior running back Emmanuel Arinze (67-574, 7 TDs) showed his potential in the ground game, averaging 8.6 yards per carry.
Sunnyvale should be good in the trenches, as well, with all-district Sam Bartis, Alex Spera and Daniel Cortez.
The strength of the defense is in the middle with linebackers senior Devin Sterling, last year’s district defensive player of the year, (101 tackles, 15 TFL) and first-team junior Jake Taylor (109 tackles, 10 TFL).
Senior Ashton Wright (46 tackles, 7 TFL) and senior Brenden Ferguson (41 tackles) anchor the line on the edges.
The secondary should also be in good shape with senior Will Van Vessem (42 tackles), and Max McAda (43 tackles) and Tripp McAda (43 tackles, 7 TFL) has also played on the defensive side of the ball in the past.
Kemp won a district title a year ago and advanced to the area finals, but returns only four starters from that team as they cope with the losses of co-MVP Darel Booker, defensive most valuable player Boomer Irvin and 17 other all-district honorees.
Among the all-district returners for Kemp are offensive lineman Harley Manders and defensive lineman CJ Henderson.