(Rick Hickman/American Press)
Last Modified: Monday, August 25, 2014 10:24 AM
The Vinton Lions won’t be sneaking up on anyone this year after reaching the Class 2A quarterfinals last season, breaking an eight-year playoff drought in the process.
Last year’s 10-win season was not a complete surprise to head coach Tarius Davis.
“We had a good nucleus of guys that had been in the system for a few years and believed in what we were doing,” he said. “Going into last season we believed we had a good football team and expected to win some games. We were flying under the radar a little bit and might have caught some people by surprise. It wasn’t a surprise to us, we took the field expecting to win.”
Davis does not mind outside expectations either.
“I don’t feel it creates any pressure,” he said.
“I think our kids expect to win. You can tell their mind-set is there is no one on our schedule that we are afraid of. You have to believe you are able to win every time you take the field. That is the culture change we had to have here. I want them to have the mind-set that we are good enough to win. We have challenged the kids to go out and prove that last year was not a fluke. We have a good nucleus that is coming back and expect to win some football games. We want to be a program where there are expectations to win. It is not pressure, it is a challenge.”
The strength of our team is going to be those eight guys who have been in the program four years,” Davis said. “Our strengths are going to be the skill guys we have back, and we have three of five (offensive) linemen back. We return our starting quarterback (Tanner Guidry, who threw for 1,161 yards and 17 TDs), receiver/defensive back Anfernee Dixon (15 interceptions) and James McMillon (845 yards rushing, 8 TDs).”
McMillon played only the second half of last season at running back.
“Up until Week 8, we didn’t feel we had that guy that if everything went well, a play could go from a 10- to 15-yard gain to a 50-, 60-yard touchdown,” Davis said. “He brought that element to our offense.”
Clearing the way for McMillon will be returning linemen Darrius Allen, Joseph Habisreitinger and Cameron Simpson.
While McMillon was creating big plays on offense, Dixon was preventing them on defense, earning first-team all-state honors.
“I think we will be solid on defense,” Davis said. “Our secondary is athletic. James Planchard is like a coach on the field at middle linebacker. He and Anfernee will anchor our defense. We lost some critical pieces. We have to find a linebacker to play with James and two linemen. If we can fill those three spots and get a little depth, we will be fine.”
Sept. 4 — at Abbeville 7 p.m.
Sept. 12 — vs. Elton 7 p.m.
Sept. 19 — at Merryville 7 p.m.
Sept. 26 — vs. Pine Prairie 7 p.m.
Oct. 3 — vs. Pickering 7 p.m.
*Oct. 10 — at Welsh 7 p.m.
*Oct. 17 — vs. Kinder 7 p.m.
*Oct. 24 — vs. Mamou 7 p.m.
*Oct. 31 — at DeQuincy 7 p.m.
*Nov. 7 — at Lake Arthur 7 p.m.