HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL

Price hopes to bring winning tradition to Leander

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The Leander football program has seemingly been in a constant state of change over the last few years, but Kris Price is hoping to create a positive, winning tradition.

The first-year head coach joins the Lions after spending six seasons on the coaching staff at Keller. Leander's last trip to the postseason was in 2013, a stat Price is hopeful of changing this season.

"We'll be able to score points and then give teams some big problems defensively," Price said. "Because of how hard those guys play, the attitude and energy are positive and they're ready to go."

Price takes over for Tim Smith, who resigned last November after four seasons as head coach of the Lions. He finished 8-32 - just 1-9 the last two seasons.

Leander is one of the smallest Class 6A schools in the state, so Price had to get creative on how to teach the players that came out for the squad. In the spring, every player in the program learned an offensive and defensive position. Whether or not everyone will play both ways is yet to be determined.

"Numbers were the biggest issue that we tried to take care of in the spring," Price said. "We went in with the mindset that playing both ways would maybe be necessary for us to be successful this year. We did that in the spring so we can choose the guys that fit different situations."

Price singled out senior Evan Smith, one of the most consistent linebackers for the Lions last season that might also be leaned on in the running game.

"Every kid has a role and that can help us in every opportunity," Price said.

That by no means creates a dip in talent at Leander.

Two years ago, the Lions were a run-and-gun pass-happy team and last year they slowed things way down and played the clock game on offense. This season is going to be more situational.

Price said Xavier Dotson - who was second on the team with 558 yards and seven touchdowns a year ago - and Brandon Hanson will be the primary running backs behind a line he called the most athletic he's ever seen.

There's a three-way battle at quarterback, including senior Will Loofe, junior Garrett Landry and sophomore Aiden Perrott.

Price said all three have different skill sets, Loofe is a natural leader and understands how to manage a game, Landry has a big arm and can make throws that most high school kids can't make and Perrott is one of best athletes in the program and figures to play other roles in the Lions' system.

"We made some changes to accentuate the talent that we have," Price said.

Defensively, Price said the thing that most excites him is the returning players that have been through the Class 6A schedule and knows what that gauntlet looks like.

"We have some kids defensibly that have unique skill sets," he said. "We're going to be a high-pressure team and we're going to bring it as much as we can. We have some kids that can get to the quarterback and we want to let them do that."

The Lions allowed a district-worse, 51.25 points per game last year.

Price, a defensive-minded coach, said Leander is going to transition a bit in terms of the scheme. They'll normally have three downed linemen and switch between have three and four linebackers.

"The strength of the defense is in the linebacking corps," Price said. "They have a high football IQ and have high energy and they want the guys around them to be great leaders. They're going to do the right thing and lead the right way."

Price could only be filled with optimism the first time he walked into Leander High School earlier this year. That feeling hasn't diminished in the time since.

"I'm really excited about the school community and the community as a whole," Price said. "They're all excited about the season, which makes it more fun. They're excited to get football started again. People are ready for the season to start."

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