Call it a work hat. A worn out hat. Even a dirty hat. For the Bret Harte football team it’s motivation.

It’s the cap head coach Casey Kester wears to every practice, scrimmage and workout.

The one he had made before he even moved to town. It was purchased at a hat shop and custom printed with “Bullfrogs” across its front.

It was along for the ride during last year’s successful season that saw the ‘Frogs earn a spot in the playoffs for the first time since 2007.

Kester told the team last year if they lost in those playoffs, they would have to lick the grimy hat.

The team lost 29-27 in the first round to Orestimba. And while losses are hard in general, this was especially stung.

Kester said a mis-timed knee and a low snap contributed the loss.

His takeaway from the game? Preparation of the coaching staff is even more important than preparing the players.

But Kester said he decided to show mercy to the players and they didn’t have to lick the hat post-loss.

Now as the team readies for their first game of the season, that hat has been on Coach Kester’s head, and on the team’s mind.

This year they want to burn the hat if they win in the playoffs.

Kester said he’s willing to grant the wish, but just how many wins it will take to earn the privilege is still up for discussion.

For now he’s having fun breaking in the new players with a friendly swipe of that dirty hat.

Bret Harte’s first opponent is the Truckee Wolverines. Kester said the school is about the same size as Bret Harte and the team is a strong one.

“I expect a very good game,” he said.

The Bullfrogs lost 14 seniors last year, but Kester has been impressed with how this year’s roster has stepped up.

This year the team will be a bit lighter on the line, but Kester said quickness will make up for those losses.

“We’ve been revamping a lot just because we are going to be a different team,” he said.

That means fans can expect more sprint outs, more play action. Last year’s team was about dominating smaller players. This year the focus will be on skill and football smarts, said Kester.

The game begins at 7 p.m. at Bret Harte High School, 364 Murphys Grade Rd, Angels Camp.