First-year head coach Jack Gray is still implementing his system leading up to a week one tilt with Stroud. Gray served as a volunteer coach the previous two seasons at Chandler High School.
“We've stuck to a few things that worked last year, but we are bringing back a few things that worked when I played here,” Gray said. “The kids are starting to find their identity and we are finally turning the page.”
With the Lions getting a late start in terms of who was going to be their head coach, Gray feels as though his team is picking up the game plan.
“I try not to bring in too much new stuff, so we've had limited practices and it's been tough but the kids are starting to buy in,” Gray said.
Chabon Anderson will start at quarterback for the Lions.
“When Chabon is on the field, he's the best athlete almost every week,” Gray said. “He's played running back so he's not your typical quarterback. He gets downhill running the ball and can still make all the throws.”
Running backs Dylan McKinney and Kobe Norton will be the duel threat in the backfield. McKinney is the big power back and Norton is the speedy big-play threat.
“Basically we have a two-headed monster in our backfield and have a good mix of runners this year,” Gray said.
The offensive line is relatively young, but has a bunch of experience. Slade Messer is the only senior protecting Anderson. The rest of the group is a mix of juniors and sophomores that have a bunch of in-game experience.
“Some of our younger guys are starting to mature and get some experience,” Gray said. “They might not have a ton of experience winning games, but they are putting in the work to succeed in the future.”
Dylan Mahan will be the primary receiver in the Chandler offense, Gray said.
“I think Dylan will show out for us this year,” Gray said. “He has a division one type talent. He really has the potential to play at the college level.”
On defense, there will be a lot of the same players on the front line.
“We have a couple guys who will rotate in and keep everyone fresh,” Gray said.
Anderson and Mahan highlight the defense, Gray said.
“He's a downhill guy on both sides of the ball. He can really put a hit on receivers.”
The Lions have a goal of making the playoffs this season.
“I want to see a culture change,” Gray said. “We have been getting more physical so now I think it's time to get in the playoffs and win some games.”
Chandler's first game is Thursday at home. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.