Lance Hays put it bluntly.
"This is my fourth year on the Pekin boys golf team. This year's team is the best team," he said.
High school golf is mostly a team sport, with four scores normally counting towards a team's score in a match. The Dragons have six solid players, and Hays is one of them.
The others are Mason Ghidina, Carter Taphorn, Chad DuPage, Jack Halstead and Jacob Hill. All are returning letter-winners except Hill.
"Each guy can score well," Hays said. "If we continue to work on what we need to work on in practice, we'll get better as the season goes along."
The Dragons have already made waves early in the season. They're 4-0-1 in dual matches and they finished third among 16 teams Saturday in the Quincy Invitational.
One of their dual match wins was against two-time defending Class 2A state champion Morton.
The Dragons scored 152 Thursday on the front nine at Lick Creek Golf Course, their home course, tying Normal Community (152) and beating Morton (154) and Normal West (165).
Hays (36), Halstead (37), Taphorn (38), Ghidina (41) and DuPage (41) scored for Pekin in the non-conference competition.
"Morton is still very good, but we have a shot at beating them in (Mid-Illini Conference) play this season," Hays said.
Hays learned a valuable lesson at the Quincy Invitational. The senior shot 3-over-par 74 at Westview Golf Course and finished in third place in the individual standings, but he bogeyed the final three holes.
The slipups were costly.
Quincy Notre Dame's Reis Dreyer and O'Fallon's Logan Harris each shot 73 and went to a playoff for medalist honors. Dreyer won on the second extra hole with a par.
"I haven't been near the top of a tournament leaderboard much in my career," Hays said. "I was thinking I had a score that was good enough to win the tournament and I starting playing for first place instead of playing my game. I tried to do too much."
Pekin coach Brett McGinnis said Hays was bummed after the tournament because of his late problems, but hopefully he'll use the experience to his advantage.
Notre Dame (395) and Edwardsville (397) finished in front of Pekin (403) and Quincy (403) in the team standings. Quincy won a scorecard tiebreaker for third place.
Team scoring is unusual in the Quincy Invitational. Each team plays five and scores five. Hays (36-38--74), Ghidina (40-36--76), Taphorn (40-43--83), DuPage (43-41--84) and Halstead (46-40--86) scored for the Dragons.