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Football 2014: Goddard Lions

Published August 14 at 2 p.m. | Last updated August 13 at 12:30 p.m.

Goddard coach Scott Vang had high hopes prior to last season for players such as Dakota Driskill, a talented linebacker and running back who made significant contributions for the Lions as a sophomore.

One problem, though. When Goddard started the season, Driskill was on the sideline in crutches, healing a knee injury sustained at a preseason camp.

The injury epidemic never really loosened its grip on the Lions, who went 2-7 while relying heavily on younger players to complete the journey.

“After the fourth or fifth week, guys were dropping everywhere,” Driskill said. “We had a lot of freshmen who were getting playing time. When I finally played, I was at defensive end. I couldn’t really run.”

Driskill is healed and back at linebacker, where he is part of a unit that Vang expects to be a team strength entering his third season. The Lions showed flashes of their defensive potential in the 2013 season finale, when they defeated rival Eisenhower 35-10.

“We see a lot of spread offenses, and we’ve found a variety of the 4-3 that works well for us,” Vang said. “We had to play a ton of young kids last year. They’re getting bigger, faster and stronger, and hopefully that will help out.”

Goddard surrendered 34 points or more in all of its losses. For that to change, Vang said it’s important for the Lions to shore up deficiencies in all areas.

“It’s still a three-phase game,” Vang said. “We turned the ball over on a short field. That happened to us more than once. Not covering a punt or a kickoff all the way – those things will get you into trouble.

“We’re trying to build on doing the little things right every time.”

Vang will entrust his offense to quarterback Kyle Young, a converted slot back who presents dual-threat potential. Driskill and senior running back Jaron Palmer will run behind a line that returns seniors Harper Rogers and Ben Hall.

Defensively, Vang believes he has one of Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division II’s best linebackers in junior Cory Atkins. Senior defensive lineman Carter Gragg and free safety earned all-league recognition last season, while junior Luke Vang and Tate Vang are possible two-way starters.

While Goddard’s schedule includes a game against Class 5A runner-up Salina South, the Lions won’t play perennial power Carroll after district realignment. With home games against Liberal and Arkansas City, and the regular-season finale with Eisenhower, Goddard won’t leave town during district play.

“We have talent,” Driskill said. “A lot of the seniors we have coming back have played since they were sophomores. It feels like an older team. We’ll still be young in places, but we have more experience.”

A LOOK AT GODDARD

Coach: Scott Vang, third season, 6-13

League: AV-CTL Division II

Last season: 2-7

Last five seasons: 12-34

Projected 2014 playoff team? Yes

TOP SKILL PLAYERS

PlayerHt.Wt.Pos.Yr.
Tate Vang6-0165WR-CBJr.
Jesse Squires6-0165WR-FSSr.
Jaron Palmer5-10185RB-LBSr.
Dakota Driskill5-10185RB-LBSr.

TOP LINEMEN

PlayerHt.Wt.Pos.Yr.
Harper Rogers6-2290OLSr.
Ben Hall6-1225OLSr.
Carter Gragg5-10240DLSr.

2013 RESULTS

OpponentScore
WellingtonL,34-28
Valley CenterW,14-10
Andover CentralL,34-0
MaizeL,54-12
Maize SouthL,35-14
AndoverL,36-25
LiberalL,64-46
CarrollL,48-0
EisenhowerW,35-10

2014 SCHEDULE

DateOpponent
Sept. 5Maize South
Sept. 12at Clearwater
Sept. 19Andover Central
Sept. 26at Salina South
Oct. 3at Valley Center
Oct. 10Andover
Oct. 17Liberal
Oct. 24Arkansas City
Oct. 31at Eisenhower

Dakota Driskill on his team

What Goddard does well: “We all work great together and listen really well. Nobody likes losing. We’re all going to pull together. With the way we’ve been working together all summer, I think we can get the job done.”

What has to improve: “Just taking care of your job and not worrying about being a star. If everybody plays for the team, it’ll all work out.”