By Tom Behrens
Coach Lydell Wilson of Seven Lakes says the best way to describe the 2016 football season (4-6) was just a lot of missed opportunities. “We played a bunch of young kids, many receiving some 6 A varsity football experience for the first time. We lost two games by one point, one game on the last series. It could have easily been a 7-3 season if some things had fallen our way, but they didn’t.”
“We had Strake Jesuit where we give up a kick off opportunity, and they kick a field goal and win it. In the Tompkins game it was a missed extra point. That’s two game right there we could have won,” said Wilson. “Morton Ranch we were winning the game and punted the ball down inside the five yard line. Their guy runs a 96 yard touchdown run with less than a minute left in the game. Those are kind of things you can’t control. It’s part of growing up as a team; its part of playing football; why you play Fridays and Saturdays.”
Players and coaches reactions after losses: “You have to look yourself in the face and understand what just happened. If you can’t look at yourself and be honest, understand that you didn’t prepare yourself, you weren’t ready to play, anybody can beat you on any given night, no matter what it is, one point or 30 points,” said Wilson.
“It’s a mindset change,” continued Wilson. “You just have to come in, work, and be ready to go. You can’t take anybody for granted. For coaches, it’s the same thing. We don’t take anybody for granted. We know what the situation is. We as coaches have to go back in and reevaluate ourselves, come out with a better game plan, a better mindset, and get the kids ready to play the next game.”
The 2016 season for the Spartans is going to be a big challenge. The team will be young again, playing a lot of sophomores again. “We’ll grow together as a team every week,” said Wilson. “At the end of the season we want to be there fighting for a playoff spot.”
Brock Sturges, junior running back, moved to Allen this year. “A great kid, a great running back. You can’t replace a 1500 yard rusher as a sophomore,” Wilson lamented. “Bryan Moore left and is now at McNeese. Brody Williams is at West Texas A&M, Steven Taylor is at Southern Arkansas. Most of the defensive guys are gone.”
“It’s a rebuilding process for the next couple of years; we’ll probably turn 10 people on offense, nine on defense this year. The youth is there; they are great athletes, but they can’t be young athletes. They have to be athletes playing at a high level,”Wilson continued.
The Spartans will be looking at two prospects at quarterback. Dalton Wood, junior, is coming back from last year. John Harrington will be a sophomore this year and had a decent year as a freshman. “We have two capable guys who can play the position,” said Wilson.
Coach Wilson really likes what he has in the receiver corps. Kevin Johnson, 6’2”, 190, junior returns; two other big receivers, none less that 6’4” will be giving Spartan opposition trouble. “All those guys can play, all big guys,” continued Wilson. “They understand what we have to do and will make a difference.”
Up front in the line junior, Brian Orlando at guard and junior, Devin Amodio at tackle should have good years. Both played last year.
“We are young all the way across the offense side but they are good young talent. Defense will be the same thing. Sophomores last year gained game experience, and now the juniors. Everybody in the secondary will be a junior or sophomore. We are a young football team,”
Wilson said the kids are excited about the coming season, and hopefully the team can get on a roll early. The Spartans open with Memorial of Spring Branch and then Foster and Alief Taylor before beginning District 19 6A competition.
“Our schedule is not an easy schedule, but we have to be ready to play. Nobody is going to give us any sympathy.”
The last four years under Coach Wilson the Spartans have compiled a 24-16 record. “What we are doing is right. We are just at the point where we have to make that big step, where we get into the playoffs and win a couple rounds, go three or four rounds deep. That’s when the whole mindset changes,”continues Wilson. “For years Seven Lakes was never thought as a football school, but now in the last four years people are gearing up to play us. We are going to play some good football; you’ll have to play one of your better games to beat us.”
When will you make the big leap?
“I don’t know. When everybody is on board, the kids, the community, when everybody is on the same page, believe the same thing, know that we are there, that’s when it’s going to happen,”said Wilson. “We have a good group of young kids coming up that will be pretty successful when they finish.”