By Kathi Bliss
After last year’s playoff bid slipped through their fingers in the final game of the season, the Lockhart Lions returned to the gridiron this month with a new head coach, a new coaching staff, and a new outlook on their road to success.
Having been at the helm of successful football programs in Liberty Hill and Eustace, Texas, Coach Brian Herman signed on this summer to lead the Lions after former head coach Paul Kilby accepted a position as Athletic Director in Sweeny last spring.
Herman said that he and his wife made the difficult decision to leave Eustace, where he led the Class 2A Bulldogs in two playoff runs because they consider Central Texas “home,” and were ready to return.
“We’ve left the Austin area, and we always come back,” he said.
What Herman “came back” to, upon taking the job as Head Coach and Athletic Coordinator in Lockhart ISD, is a program that has been marked by high turnover and slogging football seasons, which finally started to find a silver lining last year, when the Lions went 6-4 on the season, and chalked up the remarkable feat of going undefeated on their home turf.
“One of the reasons I think that I’m a good choice, is that I run the same offense that they learned over the last two years,” Herman said. “They already have some of the fundamentals, and now we just have to fine tune that to my style of coaching and my way of dealing with the kids.”
The start, so far, was rocky. The Lions put up a less-than-stellar performance in their first scrimmage of the season, an Aug. 17 scrimmage against the Cuero Gobblers, but gained some traction when they hosted the La Grange Leopards for a scrimmage last week.
“I don’t really look at the scrimmages as success or failure,” Herman said last week before the LaGrange scrimmage. “We still have some moving around we need to do, some positions we aren’t quite sure our guys are the best fit. So I didn’t really look at Cuero, and I’m not really looking at LaGrange.”
Instead, Herman said, he and his staff were focusing on the season opener, this week’s standoff with the Victoria West Warriors, and then later to their first home game, against the Crockett Cougars.
“Scrimmages are for us to find out what’s working and what’s not working, and how to make it work,” he said. “After the kids understood that was how I was looking at it, they came in this week ready to work, and worked hard and made improvements.”
Still, the Lions have a long way to go.
“There are some things…. Maybe we aren’t as strong as I thought we should be, or that we didn’t do as well as we hoped we would,” he said. “But every season, there’s an ‘a-ha!’ moment that everything just clicks and comes together. I can’t wait, with this team, to see what that moment is going to be.”
Herman admitted the team has a tough season ahead, with the number of powerhouse teams in District 27-4A. The greatest challenge he thought, though, would be the challenge of coming into a community and a locker room that has turned over five head coaches in 10 years.
“So far, the community has been great, and the kids make it fun to come to work every day… and you just never know when you come in, how it’s going to be,” he said. “These are kids that work hard and want to be here, and want to play hard, and this is just a great time to be a Lion.”
In general, Herman said that he intends to establish himself not just a head coach, but as a member of the community, and hopes to bring stability and longevity to the Lion Football Program.
Herman will lead his Lions out of the locker room on Thursday night as they open the season in Victoria against the Victoria West Warriors.
Last season, the Warriors went 5-5 on the season and tied for fourth in their district. They averaged 34 points per game, while their opponents averaged 32.
The Lions, on the other hand, scored 34 while holding their opponents to 30.