Despite participating in a vastly different offseason for high school football, Lansing took advantage and adapted many of its workouts to outdoor, on-field activities to allow for social distancing and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The result was an incident-free summer of workouts that had great attendance and consistency. Head coach Dylan Brown said the effort throughout the summer led to a solid transition into practice, which began Aug. 17.
"I would say, for the most part, these first three days have been OK," he said. "We were able to pick up where we left off from the summer. We still haven’t gone to full contact yet, and just today we were able to wear shoulder pads for the first time since October and it looked like it. Fortunately, we still have some time to get better."
The Lions finished 4-4 in the regular season before being eliminated by Shawnee Heights in the 5A state playoffs.
Junior Caden Crawford is slated to step into the starting quarterback position that was left by graduate Luke Schneider.
Brown said his team will look to improve in any way they can without focusing on one area and their schemes will remain mostly the same.
"We won’t change too much, we are still a Wing-T team on offense and a 4-3 team on defense," he said. "Going back to looking at improving in all areas, we have tweaked and adjusted things to make the systems run smoother and fit personnel better."
The biggest positions the Lions have looked to fill are at tight end and defensive ends. Brock Brown filled both spots over the last two seasons but the Lions will look to secure both heading into the season. Brown said he is looking at both Nate Expose and Landon Thomas for the tight end spot as well as the defensive end openings with fellow sophomore Jamale Williams.
Lansing returns starters on defense in safety Richie Williams and linebacker Dylan Ward – first-team all-United Kansas Conference in 2019. Williams led the UKC in interceptions with three as a sophomore before suffering injury five games into the season.
Brown said the lack of camps this summer due to COVID-19 gave him and his staff less of an opportunity to see everything their kids could do.
"We were not able to host or attend any padded camps this year, which is a huge evaluation tool," he said. "A lot of players look good in shorts and T-shirts, but it’s a different story when they put on pads. We were able to host our non-padded KSHSHAA camp, and we were able to evaluate our kids’ knowledge of the systems and athleticism enough to give us an initial depth chart."
With the uncertainty surrounding the season, Brown is instructing his players to appreciate the days they have now.
"Every day we never know when we’ll get the call to shut it down," he said. "Like I tell our kids, we will have to love every day we are given the chance to play football in this environment."
Lansing is scheduled to open the season Friday at home against Lincoln. Kick off is scheduled for 7 p.m.