Lions look to repeat last year's success

Last year, Royse City handed Kaufman one of its two district losses with its strong ground game. As running back Payton Petroff returns for this season, his team may again be a significant hurdle for the Lions to overcome on their march toward the postseason.

After making it to the postseason in their debut season on the 5A stage, the Kaufman Lion football team is looking to transition into another successful year with head coach Jeramy Burleson remaining at the helm.

Battling it out with, in many cases, much larger districts, the Kaufman Lions had a strong showing throughout 2018. They beat a strong Sulpher Springs squad 30-21 and topped Forney 28-26. The Lions were in strong contention for the district title, but their loss to eventual champions Corsicana in the final eight seconds of week two of district cost the Lions the top spot. One 45-29 loss to Lovejoy later, Kaufman’s whirlwind of a season came to a screeching halt.

Although head coach Burleson is proud of the way his team handled last season, he also admits that many of the team’s shortcomings from last year will remain prevalent this year.

“Last year was a great season for us,” Burleson said. “We really came close to winning district, and then we drew a really tough Lovejoy in the playoffs. Depth was an issue last year, and it will be an issue this season again. We know our number-one players are as good as anybody in the district. We just have so many players that play both ways we have to get ready for four quarters.” 

With just nine starters returning from last year, the Kaufman bench will likely be significantly less crowded this year. That means many players will be playing both sides of the ball, a difficult challenge against the sizable schools that make up class 5A. With LaDamien Bailey and Raikyviun Shaw at the tail end and Darius McGee and Charleston Miller down the sidelines, Burleson and the Lions will have to make a decision about who to put at the quarterback position. 

“The quarterback will probably decide itself after the summer,” Burleson said. “The quarterback and offensive line guys are going to be huge for us.”

For now, with their eyes set on another postseason horizon, the Kaufman Lions have been focusing on conditioning ahead of their season opener against Lindale on Aug. 30.

“We really had a great off-season,” Burleson said. “We focused on conditioning; that is more of a concern than strength for us right now. We have gotten stronger, too, but we have been running a lot and making sure we will be able to last four quarters. The summer work will pay off for them in August.”

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