Leander is feeling reenergized and refreshed following its bye week and is ready to get the district going.
The Lions open up the district season when they travel across town to take on LISD foe Vista Ridge Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Gupton Stadium. Leander won last year’s game, but the Rangers took the two before that.
“They look like a typical Visa Ridge team,” Leander head coach Tim Smith said. “They’re very fast, very physical, and very well-coached. They do a great job and they keep rolling. It’s a challenge for us every year because they’re pretty good.”
Leander has struggled with injuries all season, most notably at quarterback and on the offensive line. The Lions have scored just over 15 points per game while giving up almost 40 per game in each of their four contests this season.
Leander dropped games against Killeen and Pflugerville to open the year and continued with losses to Westwood and Stony Point.
But despite the lack of wins, morale has not dipped.
“The team is still practicing hard,” Smith said. “The defense is flying around and we’re completing a lot of passes. There’s a lot of coaching and teaching and they’re working their butts off and the kids are practicing hard and that’s all we can ask.”
Junior quarterback Rashad Carter injured his hand just before halftime in the Week 2 loss against Pflugerville.
Sophomore William Loofe has stepped in and shown improvement in the last two starts. In games against Westwood and Stony Point the last two weeks, he’s completed 54 percent of his passes for 436 yards and five touchdowns.
Loofe is just one of the young players that Smith is expecting to see an increased focus from against the Rangers.
“There are some young kids, so they may be a little afraid to lay it on the line, so we’re always looking for that,” Smith said. “And we’re looking to limit the penalties. The kids have played extremely hard, we’ve just got to execute.”
After a slower than anticipated start to the season, Vista Ridge has picked things up, especially on the offensive side of the ball. The Rangers have beaten Westwood and Lehman in the last two weeks and scored 105 points in that span.
The Rangers will have their bye folioing the game against the Lions before returning to district play on Oct. 20 at Vandegrift. Leander hosts the Vipers next Friday night and travels to Hays on Oct. 20.
“The bye week gives you kind of a new energy and you get to refocus a little bit,” Smith said. “The kids are excited about starting district. We’ve been playing Vista since it opened and it’s a good rivalry. We’re expecting a big crowd and an intense game.”