DEXTER Its always good to play with a little chip on your shoulder, especially if last season didnt end the way you planned.
For General Brown, a 6-2 record and a loss in the first round of the sectionals in 2011 left the 17 seniors on this years squad wanting more.
More intensity. More dedication. More team chemistry.
So the Lions spent the entire offseason preparing for Friday nights 2012 season opener in a Section 3 interclass matchup with visiting South Jefferson. And if its debut was any indication, a 36-15 victory, General Brown should be squarely back in the Class C mix again.
Junior running back Zech Pitre ran for 139 yards on 17 carries and scored twice, and senior quarterback Richard Lagano ran for a score and passed for another as coach Tom Frears team beat the Class B Spartans on Fisher Field.
Lagano said the Lions have the potential to be a sectional contender.
If we clean up some of the mistakes we made tonight and really stick together, Lagano said. We certainly have the talent and the experience. Now its a matter of just sticking together.
Frears, beginning his third year at the Lions helm, said he expects a lot of this veteran group.
Last year, the juniors didnt step up like we thought they would, Frears said. But this is their time. We expect them to make some of the plays we didnt make at key times last year.
General Brown took the opening kickoff and marched 77 yards in seven plays for a score. Pitre rambled nine yards for the touchdown, and Lagano hit Jake Humerickhouse for the 2-point conversion.
But South Jefferson answered right back as sophomore running back Dylan Beckstead scored on a 7-yard run. Quarterback Jake Moultons 2-point conversion run tied it at 8-8.
The go-ahead score came on a Lagano 47-yard run on the Lions second possession. Lee Bauters PAT gave General Brown the lead for good.
Lagano also had a hand in the Lions third score, a perfectly executed 55-yard pass to Colin Lutz, who had gotten behind the Spartans secondary.
Lagano was Josh OHearns backup at quarterback last season, playing mainly wide receiver where he earned Times All-North honors. He said the transition back to playing under center was pretty easy.
I took a lot of snaps last season, so it wasnt that big a deal coming back, Lagano said. Me and Pete (Will) had a great battle for the starting job, and both of us can get the job done.
The General Brown defense came up with a huge defensive stand at the end of the first half that completely changed the momentum.
South Jefferson had a first and goal inside the Lions 10-yard line in the final minute, but couldnt punch in the score and trailed 22-8 at halftime.
That really showed a lot of character on our part, Frears said.
Junior Colton Erb scored on an 18-yard run early in the third quarter, and Pitre added a 6-yard scoring run later in the quarter for General Brown.
Beckstead, who finished with 187 yards on 28 carries, scored on a short run on the final play of the game for South Jefferson.
Humerickhouse said after some early struggles, the defense played pretty tough. We still need some work on our tackling, but potentially I think were going to be very good.
Lagano said the only motivation the Lions need is to be prepared for every game. I think last year maybe we were looking ahead too often.
Frears, always the realist, said, last year was last year, and this is a completely new season. I think our seniors are ready to take charge and keep this team going in the right direction.
South Jefferson coach Pat Conners was upbeat despite the loss.
We should take a lot of positives out of this game, he said. I asked a lot of young kids to do some things maybe they are not ready for just yet. General Brown was more physical and quicker than us all night.