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Lions open season Friday with Cleveland

Cleveland proving to be something of a mystery to Lions


by: JEREMY DUECK - Tanner Long was expected to get the starting nod in the Lions' first game.The St. Helens Lions aren’t quite sure what to expect when Cleveland comes to town this Friday for the 2012 football opener.

St. Helens Coach John England doesn’t have game films and the two teams only crossed paths two years ago in a play-in game, handily won by the Lions.

“I had a roster,” England said, “but upon further investigation I discovered it was from their website last year.”

The coach said he believes they are a spread team that throws a lot, but beyond that he really doesn’t know.

“They are a PIL school so they can be good one year and not so good the next. We have to prepare for anything and everything,” England added.

While Cleveland is a bit of a mystery, the Lions are also something of an enigma going into the first game.

“It was hard to tell anything from the scrimmage because of our lack of depth. Our numbers are down and we have 15-16 kids that will see the majority of minutes. We played our first 11 on offense and they moved the ball easily against the defense. Then we put in the first defense and they looked good,” England noted.

What he does know is that Gage Bumgardner will get the nod at quarterback and Tanner Long will be the featured running back. He said Brennan Norton is also looking good at running back, and that Ryan Jensen and Tom Hughes will also see time carrying the ball.

“Considering that we don’t have numbers, the team is working hard and in good spirits. It’s a fun group to coach. We’re really young and we want to be positive. We’re working to get better,” he said.

After Cleveland, the Lions have a killer schedule in their next three games. They travel to Wilsonville to start league play the following week, and then are at Liberty (Sept. 14). The team hosts Sherwood on Sept. 21. Sherwood and Wilsonville are considered the favorites in the Northwest Oregon Conference this year and probably will be top-five ranked teams.

After they get through the first four games, the Lions have a little easier schedule and could do well.