Last year's group didn't bolster a lot of expectations heading into the season. Fresh off of their most successful year in school history, they featured widespread youth and plenty of new faces in starting positions.
In 2017, Ascension Christian lost some of the most instrumental players their football program has ever seen—including a quarterback in Peyton Bahlinger that totaled more than 3,000 yards and and nearly 50 touchdowns.
The Lions plugged in new players and kept on rolling. That’s something that Ascension Christian must duplicate in 2018.
Last year’s group didn’t bolster a lot of expectations heading into the season. Fresh off of their most successful year in school history, they featured widespread youth and plenty of new faces in starting positions.
Despite the hurdles, the Lions’ win-total only dropped from eight to seven.
Now, those hurdles are back. It’s just a matter of if they can overcome them as they did last year.
Ascension Christian will be without three players that have contributed to the program’s best teams.
Defensively, they’ll be without their all-time leading tackler in Brennan Tramonte. Tramonte totaled more than 100 tackles in all four years he started for the Lions.
Offensively, London Ortego emerged as the team’s workhorse back last season. He became the program’s all-time leading rusher as he chewed up more than 1,000 yards rushing. This included an amazing record-breaking performance against Fisher in which he ran for 297 yards.
Finally, the Lions will lose playmaker K’von Delone—the program’s all-time leading receiver
“K’von Delone is going to be tough to replace because of the speed he brought and how he stretched the field for us offensively,” head coach Josh Puryear said.
There are still some talented players that Puryear will have at his disposal in 2018.
Just like last season, it’s unclear as to who will be the starting quarterback this season. Both Derrick Varnado and Zack Diez shared playing time last year.
Varnado saw the most time. He played well, hurting defenses with both his arm and his legs. He has also been used at receiver.
Puryear said that his offense will center around Varnado and senior wideout Tyler Cambre.
Filling in for Ortego will be be sophomore Brady Gueho. Puryear has high aspirations for him.
“Brady Gueho is going to carry the load in terms of running the football, and we are expecting big things from him. He has gained some good weight and is our strongest player on the team,” Puryear said.
Senior Luke Sylve will be an anchor for the Lions on both the offensive and defensive front, and junior receiver Byron Hansley has the capability to have a breakout year.
“He is someone with a lot of speed that can do a lot of damage when the ball is in his hands,” Puryear said.
Puryear named some players that are new to the team and to football that could help the Lions immensely in 2018. They are: junior lineman Peyton Childester, sophomore running back and linebacker Andrew Ritchie and senior athlete Hunter Jacobs.
“I think our strength is going to be at our skill positions offensively,” Puryear said. “I feel we have a lot of guys that have good instincts as football players and can really do some good things. We feel like over the past few years, the culture has been improving and our guys come out and compete.”
The program has certainly seen an upward projection over the last few years. In their first six seasons, Ascension Christian went just 7-40 overall. In the past three years, they’ve gone 21-7.
“I really like this year’s team,” Puryear said. “We have had a good summer. We only have four seniors, with the rest underclassmen. We are excited about what is to come this year.”