A lot of new faces will be wearing varsity numbers for the Pusch Ridge Lions, as the team works to prepare for its 2011-12 season.
Coach Bob Vance said it’s going to be difficult to build on last season’s 8-2 overall record, and the undefeated 7-0 region record, with such a young squad.
“This year’s team’s strength is their commitment and hard work,” said Vance. “We are very young in terms of football experience. We, as coaches, need to make sure they are ready for the things they will encounter.”
Seniors Caleb Tvrdy, Josh Brock and Adrian Persons will be leading the young squad.
Tvrdy will be a tailback and receiver. Vance said Tvrdy has the potential to be a threat to opponents because of his speed and “tremendous” work ethic.
Brock, a linebacker and running back, will be a full-time starter and the team’s anchor.
Persons, who is on the offensive and defensive lines, is described by Vance as the biggest and strongest player in the entire region.
Stepping under center will be junior Grayson Barghols and sophomore Jake Frithsen. Both players are showing promise at the quarterback position, Vance said.
Another young promising prospect on the roster is sophomore wide-out Mike Doty, who has great hands and speed to contribute to the offense.
“We will probably be younger than any team we face so we need to focus on doing all the little things right,” said Vance. “We have only had four practices (as of Monday, Aug. 8), but so far the kids are enthusiastic about the challenge. They are like sponges soaking up knowledge and are working very hard. With coaches like Lamar Lovett, Scott Kaveloh and Mark Frithsen there is a lot of information to absorb. Our athletes will do it.”
The Lions will open the season at home on Aug. 26 against Peoria Accelerated. Peoria finished the 2010-11 season with a 2-7 record.
The real test for the young Lions will likely come in week two, when they travel to take on the Empire Ravens, in Vail on Sept. 2.
The Ravens have come on strong in the last two seasons, finishing last year with a 7-4 record.