Last year, Vista Ridge football went back to basics. Now, with another year of experience, the Rangers are looking to build on that foundation - brick by brick.
With a few key returners, Vista Ridge is figuring to be fighting for a playoff spot in a very tough District 13-6A. And after a successful summer program that saw their 7-on-7 team advance to the state tournament, confidence is high.
"The attitude and energy of this team, I'm excited about the goals that they set in the offseason and the energy that had in the summer," head coach Rodney Vincent said. "I'm excited to see that carry over to the football season. They've done a lot of things the right way leading up to now."
Offensively, Kyle Brown returns at quarterback after finishing with nearly 1,000 yards and five touchdowns last season. The Rangers have an experienced receiving core and there are multiple guys that can carry the offensive load at running back.
Going to the state 7-on-7 tournament isn't always the best indication of how potent an offense a team will have, but it does boost the confidence a bit.
"We were really efficient this summer," Vincent said. "In different spots one the field, being able to compete against those teams, those are things you can't simulate when you're playing a pickup game. You have to put it in perspective."
Scoring was the biggest hiccup for Vista Ridge last season, as the Rangers finished with a district worst 16.1 points per game during conference play.
Defensively, the strength of the squad is in the secondary. There are a couple of new guys at safety and two inside linebackers are returning, in addition to Luke Horne on as a defensive edge rusher.
"We might be undersized, but our work ethic is undeniable," senior linebacker Canon Kromis said. We're always together and I bet we're working harder than most teams. Hopefully, we're stronger than most teams."
Last year was a good example in discipline for the Rangers. Their only win of the season was a 59-41 shootout win over Leander. Vincent said they need to stay focused better and keep their minds in the game longer.
"There's a certain brand of football that we need to play," Vincent said. "And then we need to stop the run, even when you're giving up yards in the passing game. We've committed to that this offseason. In a district, like we're going to be in, we need to be an opportunistic defense."
This year's group has adapted a blue-collar mentality and understands a big turnaround isn't going happen overnight. Coming off last season, being able to focus on one single thing has been good and the switch has been flipped.
"Making it to the playoffs would be very good for us," senior Andrew Caston said. "It's been two years since we've been there so getting back here would be awesome. The seniors have been there and they know what they're doing. So they can spread it to the younger guys. Having that leadership and experience helps a lot."