MONFORT HEIGHTS – Seven straight losses, five of which by eight points or less, isn’t the way La Salle High School football coach, Nate Moore, imagined his first season as head coach ending.
So how does one go about fixing that problem?
Building team unity.
After giving up 64 points in the fourth quarter and overtime during the seven-game losing streak, the Lancers spent part of the offseason at a team unity camp where the emphasis was placed on fighting for the man next to you, building a brotherhood and trying to understand exactly what it takes to win a football game when everything is on the line.
“We lost (so many) games in the fourth quarter,” Moore said during practice Aug. 19. “How do you change that? How do you win those games? Who are you fighting for out there? You’re not playing for your coach at that time. You’re playing for the guy next to you. For us, that’s what this offseason has been about; creating those relationships and really making that our focus. The idea being that when we’re in those situations we make those plays on third-and-two.”
Consistency may be the biggest key to success if this team is able to come together as a unit.
“I think it’s just a matter of consistency,” junior offensive lineman, Luke Doerger said, “not just for the offensive line, but the team as a whole. We have to come out here every day whether it’s 60 degrees or 160 degrees. We’ve talking all year about being even keel and being the same great team that we can be no matter the circumstances.”
The Lancers return four starters on the offensive line, including Doerger, who will work to protect whoever is under center coming Aug. 29 when the Lancers renew their rivalry with Colerain High School to open the season. Last year’s starter, Nick Watson, is currently in an open competition with senior Eric Greene, who underwent elbow surgery last season.
“Last year they were neck-and-neck going into the season (before Greene’s surgery,” Moore added. “It’s 100 percent open (this season). I told them back in the spring that we’re going to start who’s the best quarterback in 2014. I think we’re getting closer to making a decision, but not yet.”
Josh Gebing and Johnny McNally are expected to fill the large void left at wide receiver by Derek Kief and Izaiah Fuller, while junior Jeremy Larkin is back at running back after gaining more than 1,600 all-purpose yards last season.
On the defensive side of the ball look for defensive backs Avery Larkin and Pierre Hunter, along with safeties Drew Meister and Kevin Ferguson to shut down the passing game. Quinn Herbert moves from defensive end back to his natural position at linebacker this year and will be surrounded by fellow linebackers Hayden Jester and Kyle Farwick. With Thompson out, Moore will rely heavily upon defensive ends John Junker and Adam McBee to apply pressure in the opponents’ backfield.
“I think we’re good enough to compete with anybody on our schedule and I think we’re good enough to win every game we play,” Moore said. “Whether we do that or not depends on how much we come together. … If we can (come together) I think we have a chance to be pretty good, but if we don’t I think we’ll be average.”
Aug. 29: Vs. Colerain, 8:30 p.m. (Skyline Crosstown Showdown at Yager Stadium, Miami University)
Sept. 5: Vs. East Central (IN), 7 p.m.
Sept. 12: At Princeton
Sept. 19: At Bishop Dwenger (IN) (Location TBA)
Sept. 26: Vs. Northwest, 7 p.m.
Oct. 3: Vs. Moeller, 7 p.m.
Oct. 10: Vs. St. Xavier, 7 p.m.
Oct. 17: At St. Charles
Oct. 24: At Winton Woods
Oct. 31: At Elder, 7 p.m.
Unless noted, games start at 7:30 p.m.