The Lions’ 2012 schedule displays a 2-8 overall record and 2-4 mark in what was the first year of Region 2-AAAAAA. But with a closer look, it’s easy to notice in a four-week period Luella fell 22-20 to Henry County, 24-21 to Alcovy and 21-20 to Rockdale County.
“We lost on a Hail Mary to Henry County,” Luella football coach Nic Vasilchek said. “Rockdale, they scored 14 points in the fourth quarter and went for two in the last minute and got it.
“Against Alcovy we lost in overtime. We had a wide open receiver but threw an interception. If we would’ve won the Rockdale County and Alcovy games we would’ve been in the playoffs last year. Then the whole tone and mood of everything would be a whole lot different.”
As a result, the Lions want this season to be nothing like last year or the previous three campaigns, which ended after 10 games.
“We’re going to try to eliminate turnovers and play a little more solid and fundamental on defense,” Vasilchek said. “Try to get in the top four in the region so we can get in the big party at the end of the year.”
The last time Luella made the playoffs was in 2008 under current Union Grove coach Paul Burgdorf.
“This is our 10th year of football and we’ve been to the playoffs one time,” Vasilchek said. “We’re trying to get over the hump.” The Lions have five starters returning on offense and four on defense to help lead the march up the hill.
“A lot of guys who are filling in got a lot of time last year,” Vasilchek said. “We just had a senior-laden class. A lot of these guys were rotated in so we’re not as inexperienced as it sounds.”
Two players with volumes of experience and talent are senior ironmen Trae Bonner and Steve Osondu.
“We had a coaches’ meeting after the season and said, ‘We’re going to play [Bonner and Osondu] as much as we can,’ and they are hungry to get to the playoffs since they’ve never been,” Vasilchek said.
Bonner and Osondu are both being recruited to play in the secondary on the next level, but Osondu will join Bonner in the backfield this season as well to run the Wing T offense.