After getting close in 2009 the Drake Bulldogs hope to take one more step and win the Pioneer Football League title this season. A last second loss to Butler prevented Drake from earning a share of the title last season and third year coach Chris Creighton has 16 starters back from a team that finished 8-3 overall.

Creighton says last year they were four seconds short of winning a championship, but they know they can win the league and that has been a source of motivation. He says they believe with some proof that it can happen, and it’s a legitimate belief based on what happened last season.

The offense made strides in 2009 but Creighton says a veteran defense remains a strength. He says the defense will lead, especially the line and linebackers, which is deep and “very talented.”

How Drake plays away from home will determine how successful the season is. Five of their first seven games are on the road. He says the first away game will set the tone for the rest of the games on the road as they see who the leaders are. One of the keys on defense is senior end Dain Taylor, who has been named to several pre-season All American teams.

Taylor says getting close and losing the last two games is a lot of motivation, as they have pictures of Butler holding the trophy, and they want to go for it this year. While the defense has a number of experienced players Taylor says there were some key losses from 2009.

He says everyone will have to step up their game to the next level and take on a leadership role.

Drake opens the season at home against Lehigh on September fourth.