FOOTBALL MADNESS: Lions ready for new season, district

Photo by Brenna Hale

The Ozona Lions were off to an early start Monday morning as the 2018 season opened at 12:01 a.m.

With a “Midnight Madness” practice to start things off, the Lions are ready for a new year and a new district.

“We had a great turnout and the enthusiasm is really high,” said Head Coach and Athletic Director Kyle Freeman.

The Lions have nine all-district selections returning, including Defensive MVP Abraham Rodriguez, All-West Texas quarterback Alec Lara, who were both selected to the San Angelo Standard-Times 2018 Preseason All-West Texas Football Team.

Also returning are all-district seniors Kyle Lewis at offensive line and defensive back Marcus Perez, and all-district juniors Sebastian De La Cruz, Lazaro Rodriguez and Zachary Talamantez.  

This year’s juniors had to “grow up fast” last season and will be looked upon for their leadership ability again this season.

“We depended on them. Once again, this year, we don’t have a large senior class. Our seniors are all good kids, though,” Freeman said. “They (the juniors) are more mature. They’ve grown. These kids have been in the program, so we can really do more.”

Lara had a good debut last year throwing for 1,072 yards and running for 770 in 11 starts.

“I feel like everybody is on the same page this year. I noticed there is a lot of communication among the returning players to the new players coming in,” Lara said. “I feel pretty confident this year. I got the nerves out of way and I feel like I can take control of the game.”

Abraham Rodriguez piled up 115 tackles at linebacker last year, a goal he hopes to surpass this season.

“The first practice was great. We still need a lot of work, but we are ready for the season,” Abraham Rodriguez said.

The returning juniors all said they are ready to step it up again this year in their leadership roles.

“Not having a lot of upperclassmen last year, made us work harder,” said Lazaro Rodriguez.

“It prepared us to be a team,” De La Cruz added.

The Lions are facing new district opponents this season.

Ozona joins Forsan, Hawley, Stamford and Winters in District 3-2A Division 1. Stamford advanced to the third round of the playoffs last year, while Hawley was a second-round team. Ozona is predicted to finish third.

The Lions lost in the first round to a strong, senior-led, Post team, after finishing second in district play.

Even with the tougher district, the Lions are determined to win the district championship.

“I think we will do fine. We will fight for that district championship, but I don’t see why we don’t have the tools to take care of it. If we come out of non-district play healthy, we can make a good run,” Freeman said.

Ozona’s non-district schedule is loaded with tough opponents, including the season opener against Sonora, followed by Iraan, Reagan County, Harper, Junction and Crane.

“It’s going to be a really good challenge,” said Abraham Rodriguez.

“It’s tougher, but our pre-season opponents will help get us ready,” Lazaro Rodriguez added.

 Meet the Lions will be 7:30 p.m. Aug. 17 at Lion Stadium. Ozona will scrimmage Roscoe at 10 a.m. Aug. 18 in San Angelo and then Coahoma at 5 p.m. Aug. 23 in Coahoma. 

Season opener is 7:30 p.m. Aug. 31 against Sonora at Lion Stadium. Reserve Tickets are on sale at the Administration Office at 797 Avenue D. Cost is $30 per ticket for all five home games. 

2018 Midnight Madess video at: https://youtu.be/eYhuG2tIFi0

 

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