Last up in our preview of district 5-3A are the Vernon Lions. The Lions coming off a year where they made it to the area finals. Before falling to Gatesville 40-to-28. The Lions went 3-and-1 in district last year their only loss coming to Graham. This year the lions reload with a stacked backfield and key returners on both sides of the ball.
Head coach Mark Bateman says he likes what he sees, "we're learning a lot we've got a really young offensive line and hopefully as they get better our offense will get better. We've done a good job with it. Those kids are learning. Our skill kids are coming along. We've got loads of talent with those guys. If we just give them a crease we've got something happening."
In a stacked district. The Vernon Lions don't take anything for granted. Saying they know every friday night is going to be a battle. This year's Lions squad is thin on the offensive line. But makes up for it with talent under center and in the back field. Starting with qb David Garza who was hurt part of last year, but head coach Mark Bateman says he comes into this year healthy and ready to lead, "he's just a playmaker on both sides of the football. Hopefully we can keep him healthy this year. We had some injuries last year with him but he's such a play maker on both sides of the ball. Good things are going to happen when he has the football."
In the backfield for the Lions are running backs Danny Valverde and Orlando Heymon. The two combining for over 1500 yards rushing and 26 total touchdowns last year. The first part of Vernon's two headed running attack is Valverde. The speed back. Coach Bateman says it's all about his running style, "he's like a waterbug. It's hard for any one to catch him because you never know where he's going. He'll get gathered up and then he'll make 4 or 5 of them miss and get 5 or 6 more yards. It's just fun watching him run."
The secnod part of Vernon's running attack it the power back Orlando Heymon. A force in the backfield who finished with 11 touchdowns last year. Bateman says Heymonn is a key to the Lions offense, "he can do some great things. He's a load to bring down. He's got enough speed to run around you or he can go over the top of you if he has to. He brings a lot to our offense."
Quarterback David Garza says it's great having two good running backs, "with two good running backs. It brings a lot to our running game. You just give it to them, and they'll do the work."
And running back Danny Valverde says one of the biggest assets for Vernon on offense is their versatility, "if they stop orlando, i can just always go outside. They'll never know who's going to get the ball. We just mix it up. And we still have zach perez as our wing back. So we can use him as a tool too."
The Lions know that they will need their best stuff each friday in this district. But Orlando heymon that it doesn't change thier goals for this season, "our major goal for district is to be district champs. To come back and get the win from graham that we lost last year. Also to return everybody healthy."
Mark bateman says the number one thing he has is respect for the Lions opponents in this district. "our district is tough but we feel like we're going to be fighting for the top of it. Our expectations are high and we feel like once we get to the playoffs you never know what' s going to happen. We just want a chance to be there"
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