The Edgewood Bulldogs missed the playoffs by just one game last season, but are doing their best to make sure they're not left out again this November.

Edgewood, bolstered by one of the area's top statistical defenses, enters Friday night's non-district finale with Emory Rains with a 3-0 record.

“This is a new year," Edgewood coach Ryan Simmons said. "When you get as close as we did last year … you always want to do better. I don’t care if you win a state championship, you always want to be better. I think it’s been a little bit of a motivating factor, but mostly we just want to play well.”

The Bulldogs surrendered nearly 30 points per game a season ago, but through three games, Edgewood has allowed just 20 points total.

Simmons said the improved play on defense has more to do with his nine returning defensive starters than any minor schematic changes that have been undertaken.

“I think our kids have grown up," he said. "We have a big senior group and these seniors have matured and are playing at a higher level than they did last year. That’s been the biggest difference because we haven’t really changed what we’re doing; we’re still doing the same things. We’re just doing them a little faster, we’re a little stronger and we’re playing at a higher level than last year.”

One of Edgewood's top standouts is junior linebacker Jace Morgan (6-0, 170), who's been making big plays all over the field. But Simmons said Morgan almost chose to skip the football season.

"Jace is a really good baseball player, and he was just going to focus on fall baseball," Simmons said. "I don’t know if his friends talked him into coming back or what. I think Jace’s is glad he came back, and I know we are.

“He’s getting his helmet to the ball and he’s flying to the right spots."

Despite the unblemished beginning to the season, Simmons admits his team has been far from perfect and needs improvement in all areas before beginning District 8-2A Division II next week against Clarksville.

“Our ball control has been pretty good and we need to continue to work on our ball control and taking care of the football," Simmons said. "We always need to get better as far as tackling and getting to the football defensively. It’s week-to-week.”