HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL

Lago Vista eyes postseason run with a roster full of potential

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Craten Phillips is honest about the lack of wins the Vikings have had lately, but he's bullish that the potential and talent is there.

Three years ago, Lago Vista was a district champion. But a large, experienced senior class gives him hope that this year will see the Vikings return to the playoffs after just a one-year hiatus.

"We were diligent as a team and they bought into the program we have," Phillips said. "It showed in our testing by the end of the spring. We're excited about the overall team speed. And then them being comfortable on the field with the amount of experience they had from last year."

The number of returners gives him a good sense of what to expect. He's pounding that the team that makes fewer mistakes will be successful and said the kids have a high football intelligence, it's all about execution.

With a school and area the size of Lago Vista, the Vikings will be leaning on a bunch of players to go both ways.

Sam Hurley is a senior slot receiver and Layne Powers returns for his junior season at running back. Powers was the leading rusher for Lago Vista before a knee injury ended his sophomore season early.

Phillips called senior quarterback Nathan Wiechman a great leader and, "one of the toughest kids I've ever coached." Wiechman will also play a role on the defensive side as an outside linebacker.

He said Griffin Beard is the only kid that looks like a lineman at first glance and will play on both sides in the trenches, albeit primarily on the offensive side.

Defensively, the linebacking corps is the most exciting part to Phillips, headlined by Jack Hood and Joshua Hernandez next to the starting quarterback Wiechman. Hurley also figures to get some time at corner.

"Lago Vista is an awesome place to live and people are realizing that," Phillips said. "People that want to live on the lake and move out here are thin good looking people and they have thin good looking kids. You don't have the bigger thicker kids. This group has really bought in and wants to be successful with what they've been given."

Lago Vista is in a tough district with the likes of Cameron Yoe and Troy and Rockdale, which all made the playoffs last season. The Vikings finished sixth of seven last season with their lone win coming against newly-opened Manor New Tech.

This will be Phillips' 21st year in coaching and 5th at Lago Vista. He started his coaching career as an assistant under his dada at Odessa High School and has spent the last 13 years as a head coach/athletic director, with stops in Garrison and Sonora.

"We were district champ at Lago Vista three seasons ago," he said. "We're getting back to the offense that did that. It kind of fits the kids."

Phillips said last year was a small senior class, but this one - which has had success at the freshman and junior varsity levels throughout their time at Lago Vista - is expecting to take things up a notch.

"Each group has the belief that they can do it," he said. "I think you take a little more ownership when it's your senior year. This is their year to make their mark and that drives them as far as motivation goes."

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