We wrap up week three of our High School Football Training Camp Road Trip with the Vernon Lions.
After sweeping to the District 1-4A Div. II title last year, they were hit hard by graduation.
"We definitely lost a lot of guys a lot of good guys," said senior Evan Bailey. "We've got a lot of big shoes to fill."
The Lions come into the 2015 season looking to reload for another deep playoff run. They lost some key pieces to the team, but they are confident they have the talent returning to go far.
"I expect us to be solid out here," said Bailey, a senior who plays tight end and linebacker. "Putting out work, having a good day every day, putting in hours. I expect us to be really good.''
"This past season we lost a lot of good players, our past seniors," said fellow senior Jaden Fanner, who like Bailey plays tight end and linebacker. "But we're looking pretty solid right now, and we should be. We're looking to be better than they were last year, so we can be a better team this year.''
On offense the team will need a new quarterback. They have two players competing for the job, Francisco Cardenez and Spencer Grant. But at this point it's just too close to call.
"Hopefully one of those guys will come through," said Fanner. "They both are pretty good quarterbacks, so either way we will be solid back there."
"Both quarterbacks are really good," said senior lineman Anthony Ortiz. "Both good leaders. Yeah I trust them."
"Every year we have had a senior quarterback," said fourth-year Head Coach Mark Bateman. "And they have done a great job for us. Again we've got a senior quarterback. We've got two of them, basically. Both the kids offer different things for us. One throws the ball a little bit better than the other one, one runs better than the other. Just whichever one of them can step up and get things going."
On the defensive side of the ball, the Lions lost some key players on that unit. The coaching staff and older players are really working in camp to get the younger players up to speed.
"Actually, we were pretty worried about it," admitted Coach Bateman. "But from what we saw the first week, we're pretty encouraged. There was some good things happening, some people stepped up, and I think we will be as good on defense as we were last year."
The lions know what it takes to make a deep run in the playoffs, and they expect to be going deep again this season.
"We just can't slack off right now," said Fanner. "You know, this is the time that we are going to be getting ourselves better. So we've got to work extra hard now, so we will be ten times better in the future playoff run."
"It's going to take a lot of heart to get over that hump," Bailey said. "You know, [going] three rounds two years in a row. It's kind of like every time you get there, you just kind of think, 'We might not get any further.' But I think if we come in with heart and spirit, we will be good.''
The Lions will open their season with a tough challenge, the #4 Graham Steers, at home on Friday night, August 28th.