In his fourth year as the Lee's Summit High head coach, Eric Thomas decided it was the appropriate time to push his players a little harder.
By SAM MCDOWELL
The Kansas City Star
He challenged them for more time in the weight training program, more effort during practice and a better all-around attendance showing for off-season workouts.
"These are the first kids here who have been with me for all four years, and I've never had a group that's bought in the way they have," Thomas said. "We worked. I put these kids through a lot. They've just done a tremendous job. No issues, no attitudes, nothing."
It's not just a hard-working group. It's a talented one, even though the Tigers won only three games last season.
Quarterback Drew Lock has a strong arm that has already drawn plenty of interest from college scouts. Only a junior, Lock already has an offer to play football and basketball at Missouri. Also, senior tailback Casey Slaughter will be starting for the third straight season.
They will provide the key elements in Lee's Summit's spread offense.
"Drew definitely had some learning lumps as a sophomore, physically and mentally, but with another year in our system, I think he's just going to be tremendous," Thomas said.
That takes care of the offense.
In reality, however, Lee's Summit will have to improve defensively to win more football games. The Tigers allowed at least 35 points in each of their last seven games.
Eight starters return defensively, led by senior nose guard Chris Campbell and senior outside linebacker Tanner Allin, who is making the move from safety.