Van Vleck enters the 2018 season with high hopes, as the Leopards try to build off of an improbable playoff run last season.
There are now high expectations at Van Vleck this season, but the Leopards will face a tough test right off to bat against Boling on Friday night.
The Leopards went 4-4 in the regular season, but then put together wins over Marion and Mathis in the playoffs before falling to Yoakum in the 3A Division I regional quarterfinals.
After the two scrimmages, head coach Robert Blackmon said he was happy where the team is, especially in trying to create some depth for a team that has to mostly play both ways.
“We still have a long way to go at a few positions, but we competed and got after it,” Blackmon said. “We were able to see what some backup guys were able to do and they stepped up.”
The reason for that big playoff run was De’Mitri Monroe, who ran wild in the playoffs, scoring seven touchdowns against Marion. He would finished the season with 1,596 yards and 19 touchdowns last season.
Now as a senior, Monroe will look to continue making big plays for Van Vleck, but the question is who else will step up.
One problem on offense for Van Vleck is at quarterback, where senior Cameron Hudson and junior Joshua DeLaRosa are still battling to see who will be the starter. “We haven’t decided on one yet,” Blackmon said. “Both will probably play on Friday.”
Receivers Jalen Williams, Brandon Burnett and A.J. Stredic hope to help out either quarterback and take the pressure off of Monroe to carry the offense.
Meanwhile, Boling comes into the first game of the season fresh off of reaching the 3A Division II state semifinals last year, but with a lot of losses on the defensive side. The Bulldogs will rely on a rushing attack led by Deven Rodgers and Jackson Manning. The two backs combined for 1,364 yards rushing last season.
Boling only has four starters back on defense, which includes defensive lineman Richard Rodriguez and defensive back Jordan Crumbley.
“We know it’s going to be a tough game and Boling is good up front,” Blackmon said. “We know it’s going to be a physical contest.
“But if we can go out and execute and don’t give up any turnovers and give us a chance in the fourth quarter, we’ll see what happens.”