FNF Preview: 2014 Vernon Lions

- For the 2013 Vernon Lions, as Three Dog Night would say, "1 Is The Loneliest Number."
The Lions came up 1 day short and 1 game short of playing in the 12th month of the year.
On November 30th, 2013, the day before the start of December, Vernon dropped a hard fought 35-26 game to Shallowater.
Now this year, the Lions want to be kings of the December playoff jungle.
Zack Mcmahen, Vernon senior linebacker-"We want to get to where we are playing in December. We are getting close to where we want to be."
Mark Bateman, Vernon head football coach-"We preach every day and every snap and in every rep you have to get better. Our coaches are pushing the kids. The kids are pushing each other to get better. Everyday in practice. We have a great pre district schedule. It going to be really tough. I think we have a good chance to do some great things if we can be healthy."
Vernon returns 7 starters on defense.
They picked up the pace in the second half of last season as they went from giving up 18 points a game to 11 points a game in their playoff run.
Senior linebacker Zack Mcmahen says the Lions have used that in preparation for this season.
Mcmahen-"We have a lot of momentum coming back we are ready to go.Everybody is working hard."
6 starters are back on offense.
There's a good mix of experience and youth on an offense last year that averaged 36 points per contest.
Bateman-"What we have out on the varsity is pretty talented. The expectations for them are pretty high. Like I said if we can stay healthy and to be able to play with most of our kids at the end of the season we will be in great shape."
The Lions schedule on paper is a challenge.
First in non district play there familiarity as the Lions will play former district mates Hirschi, Burkburnett, and Graham.
You can also throw in Abilene Wylie and Springtown.
That's 5 playoff teams from 2013.
Then the UIL didn't do the Lions any favors when it came to redisticting.
In district play, it is truly unknown teams for the lions as they play panhandle playoff teams Bushland, Perryton and Dalhart.
Even though Vernon and Iowa Park have been district partners since 1988, the hawks have a new coach.
So this really is brand new for the Lions.
Bateman-"Yes for the past many years, we have know each other pretty well right now it is the unknown. We don't know much about Bushland, Dalhart, or Perryton. But it ought to be interesting. And making the trip up to the panhandle should be fun."
Mcmahen-"We'll play with who ever. It doesn't matter. We are going to go up there and we are going to play like we are here."
The Vernon Lions push for December football begins next Friday night at Graham.

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