Among the tasks associated with preparing for their Aug. 30 season opener, dwelling on the past isn’t on the list for Lehman Lobo head coach Bruce Salmon and his program.
Truthfully, the challenge has “always been us,” Salmon said, even with so many things that have been out of their control.
But the chance to possibly end a nearly two-year long losing streak is one of a handful of goals Salmon and the Lobos know are within arm’s reach in 2019. It’s all part of their plan to forge a new identity for the program, encompassed by their motto of building it “brick-by-brick.”
“We’re in the process of building and it’s not going to be built overnight. Rome wasn’t built in one day, but it was built every day,” Salmon said.
Through a week-plus of practices, Salmon said the Lobos are off on the right foot despite a “shotgun start.” Lehman began fall drills Aug. 12, which was then followed by the start of classes Aug. 15.
Aiding it all has been a vast amount retained knowledge shown by returning Lobo players, who participated in spring ball. Salmon said obtaining that kind of continuity is the one thing Lehman has been missing over the past few seasons.
“As a coach it makes it easier because you have experienced kids who have got through the system and know what it looks like and they are helping to teach,” Salmon said.
One of those leaders is senior Gilbert Partida, who is expected to be an anchor for a Lobo offensive line that will be inexperienced. Salmon said Partida is a “heck of a football player” who has learned how to channel his aggressiveness from whistle to whistle. Salmon said Partida carries respect with his teammates, a critical component as the Lobos still have questions in the trenches.
“We have guys who can give some answers and we need them to get together and find that continuity,” Salmon said.
Meanwhile, Joey Guajardo and Logan Travis, who are currently locked in a battle for the starting quarterback spot, bring depth to the position, Salmon said. In the backfield, senior Keyshaun Williams, who led the team with 464 yards rushing last season, returns and is expected to carry the load, backed up by Nate Guidry and JD Brown.
On defense, defensive back Keon Bailey is expected to make the transition from cornerback to safety, while Brown will play both sides of the ball at the linebacker position.
Outside linebacker Braxton Leonard, who amassed 17 solo tackles in 2018, also returns, along with defensive end Damon Allen.
Salmon said building a “brand which we play,” as well as fostering consistency, are several short term goals they aim to attain leading up to their road opener against New Braunfels Canyon.
Playing at a high level, especially against a daunting road in District 25-6A, is what they hope to achieve down the road.
“The atmosphere around here is drastically improved. It all starts with the attitudes of our kids and the community,” Salmon said. “We’re excited about things that are going on and we’re looking forward to our kids playing this fall.”
Lehman opens at Canyon Aug. 30. The Lobos return home to host McCallum Sept. 6.