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Bears bigger, stronger in 2013

Bears bigger, stronger in 2013
Members of the varsity offense line up against members of the junior varsity defense during an early evening practice session last week.

LA VERNIA When talking to La Vernia Head Coach Bo Robinson about his football team, “bigger and stronger” were the first words he uttered. Robinson said his players have been working hard during the offseason and summer, and are in better shape than they were at this time last season. Combine the players’ larger size and strength with their on-field experience, and the results should be good for the Bears.

The football program has grown under Robinson, and the coach is quite pleased with player participation. The Bears were “young” last year, but Robinson said he could tell they have “grown up,” and are anxious to get on with the season. Robinson said the Bears are “way ahead” of where they were at this time last year, and that he feels good about his team’s chances to compete for a district title.

No major changes are planned this season, and the Bears will look to expand on what they have done in the past. La Vernia has a run-heavy offense, and always puts a tenacious defense on the field.

There are no changes to the district this year, and La Vernia will continue to compete in 28-3A. Somerset may once again be considered the favorite, but the Bears will definitely challenge for the crown. Also competing for the district’s top spot will be Pleasanton, Sam Houston, and Poteet. With a change to the playoff system this year, four of the five teams will actually see postseason play.

Winning the district title is goal No. 1 for the Bears, and to still be playing in December is second on their list. Making the playoffs will be nice, but finding success in the postseason and positioning the team to compete for the region and state titles is the ultimate end goal every year.

Robinson said his team’s greatest strength lies in the players’ enthusiasm. The kids are excited about the season and are working hard to get better every day. Robinson felt his team was not as “physical” as it needed to be last year, and he expects things to be different in 2013.

“We’ve got to get that back,” Robinson said, “and we need the kids up front to play good, physical football.”

So what is it going to take to bring that back? According to Robinson, it’s just going to take some time. He is optimistic, though.

“I feel good about this year,” he said.

The Bears will once again play a tough non-district schedule, and that’s exactly the way Robinson likes it. Every game prior to the district schedule is about preparation, and La Vernia will definitely be challenged again this season.

The Bears will start the year by hosting Medina Valley, and then they will travel to Port Lavaca to take on the Calhoun Sandcrabs. From there, the Bears will square off with Canyon Lake and Wimberley, before closing out the non-district schedule with Bandera and Taylor.

As for the guys to keep an eye on, Robinson listed several players from whom he expects big things this season.

Offensively, senior Vince Gill should do well at tailback for the Bears. Senior Levi Andrews is a speedy guy with big play potential at receiver, and senior Rudy Mendoza will help at receiver, as well. Up front, Robinson said senior Lukas Hayes has worked hard and really grown up in a lot of ways. At 6 feet, 4 inches, and 310 pounds, Hayes should be very physical and help anchor the line. Junior quarterback Colby Skelton will be under center for the Bears this year, and Robinson likes his potential. He described Skelton as a “smart kid” who works hard and is very coachable.

On defense, Robinson expects a big year from senior Landon Richter at linebacker, and fellow senior Dillon Doege. Junior Zack Beach will be aggressive working out of his defensive end position, and sophomores Kobe Bullard and Matthew Montgomery should come into their own, especially considering both saw starting time last year as freshmen.

The hard work is far from over in La Vernia, but the preseason workouts are just about done. The Bears will kick off their 2013 season this Friday, Aug. 30, as La Vernia plays host to the Class 4A Medina Valley Panthers. Game time is set for 7:30 p.m. in Bear Stadium.

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