The New England Patriots play the Los Angeles Chargers Sunday in the AFC Divisional title game as the Patriots aim for their eighth consecutive AFC Championship game appearance.
The Patriots hold the NFL record with 10 straight AFC East wins. Five Super Bowl wins and eight Super Bowl appearances in the Tom Brady era have made for some very memorable experiences for fans in New England.
For high school seniors, they have never known a team without Tom Brady and a dynasty of dominance.
Jack Aceto and Eli Carollo, wide receivers from Cape Elizabeth High School, and Caleb Viola and Elijah Azimi, a center and middle linebacker from South Portland High School, sat down over a table full of chicken wings to talk about how the Patriots have shaped their high school football playing experience.
"It’s crazy because every year, year after year, going to the Super Bowl and the playoffs, it’s crazy to think about," said Viola.
"I just feel like we are blessed to be born where we are and because if we were older, we would not experience what we have right now," said Azimi.
"It makes me feel kind of spoiled as a sports fan because my whole life I’ve seen them play so many playoff games. A lot of sports fans are lucky to see their team win a couple playoff games," said Carollo.
For their entire lives, Tom Brady has led incredible comeback wins, taking the team to postseason glory. They seemed a little less confident about the team in another 18 years.
"They could, but I think how [Brady ]plays really brings them up and tells them were never going to be counted out. We can win this, we can come back just like they did in Super Bowl 51," said Viola.
For many of these kids, watching the Patriots resilience has shaped the way they play.
"Even throughout the losses that Tom Brady has been through he says, time after time, 'you know somebody is better than you, you need to give them credit. You can hang your head after a loss, but you've got to get back in and work harder to be the better team and come back stronger next time.' That just gave me the mentality to work as hard as I can and bounce back from classes and not hang my head," said Viola.
"We’ve always had not the greatest team, but I’ve never counted us out because I watched a Patriots and I think, if they can come back, why can’t we?" said Azimi.
"After big losses, I’ve always looked back and watched how they act towards it, and they always come back and work harder the next day. That’s what motivated me to do the same thing when I play football, just to come back and work extra hard," said Aceto."
"Just seeing Brady and how good of a leader he is, it shows you how to be a good leader for your football team," said Carollo.