Lance Hinson’s second stint as the head coach of the University of Saint Mary Spires football team started much different than his first due to the restrictions put in place by the COVID-19 pandemic earlier this year.


Hinson was hired to return to USM as the assistant athletic director and head football coach after spending four seasons coaching at McMurry University in Abilene, Texas, in Division II. He said part of the reason he returned to Leavenworth was his love for USM.


"The blue and gold is in my, in my, in my blood," Hinson said. "I love this place, not only because of the school but the president, the athletic director are some of the closest people in my life."


The Spires are coming off an 0-10 season in which they finished last in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference but Hinson said the returning players from that team are determined to show they are better.


"These guys are so motivated to prove that last year was not a true indication of their abilities," he said, "so they found their places to work out, they found their gyms where they could lift. They come in with a great attitude and they want to learn."


Hinson said they are looking at three quarterbacks to take the starting job but are not in a place to currently name a starter. He said a lot of the depth chart is not set in stone and they are looking forward to their first scrimmage Saturday to see who will step up.


Senior defensive back Nick Holmes has made an early impact and is one of the leaders of the defense.


"(Holmes) has actually taken over this defensive scheme, he loves it," Hinson said. "He’s helping out the other guys and being a great leader."


Hinson said with the uncertainty surrounding the season, he is telling his team to focus primarily on the next day.


"We’re focusing on what we have to accomplish the next day," he said. "Making sure that our kids are focusing on what is right in front of them because that’s the process of what we’re trying to build here. We’re trying to build a program."


The Spires are scheduled to open their season at home Sept. 12 against Bethany College. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.