LYONS — Seniors Logan Watson and Trent Poulsen have formed a strong bond with one another on the football field.
Watson throws passes to Poulsen on offense. He snaps the ball to Poulsen on kicks and punts. On defense, they routinely meet at the ball-carrier.
Constantly, Poulsen and Watson are involved in the every play.
“Logan is one of my great friends,” Poulsen said. “We’ve been playing together since seventh grade and we have a lot of chemistry passing the ball, defense and working together in school, everything. He’s a great leader and I’m trying to help him help out the team this season.”
Watson is the quarterback on offense and strong-side linebacker on defense. He’s the long snapper on field goals and punts, and has various other special teams assignments.
Poulsen is the starting No. 1 receiver and also plays running back. On defense, he starts at safety. He also is the kicker and the punter.
Watson led the Lions on offense with 1,656 total yards and 19 touchdowns in 2012. He also was fifth on the team with 53 tackles.
Poulsen led the team with 214 receiving yards and four touchdowns. He also led the Lions with five interceptions and five passes defended, was fourth on the team with 57 tackles, and returned kickoffs and punts.
After finishing second to Platte Canyon in the 1A Metro League last season, Poulsen said the Lions hope to get back on top in 2013. They’ll need both Watson and Poulsen, and their chemistry, at a high level in order to do it.
With numbers lower than they’ve been in recent memory on the Lyons football team, Watson and Poulsen aren’t the only players who will wear many hats this year. Each of the Lions is being called upon to take on extra responsibilities.
“Lots of young players are having to play. Some of our receivers and linemen are pretty young and I was a little skeptical at first but they’ve really coming along quickly and I trust them all,” Watson said. “We maybe had a couple more players last year but it’s about the same. I think we’re adjusting pretty well so far.”
Watson having faith in his blockers and receivers is crucial for the Lions, who expect to place more emphasis on passing.
All around, Poulsen even feels the lower numbers could turn out to be a blessing in disguise.
“Having fewer players can also be a kind of advantage because we get more experience on the field,” Poulsen said. “There are a lot of freshmen who are playing but they have taken leadership roles, too, and have had to learn all the plays and they’re doing great so far.”
Head coach Brandon Wilkes said even when the Lions had 30 or 40 or more players, guys have always played both sides of the ball in Lyons. It’s rare, he said, that the Lions play a team that has platoon players. That’s high school football, particularly in Class 1A.
The biggest way Watson and Poulsen embody the Lions’ need to take on extra work is how little the come off the field. Not only do they play offense, defense and special teams, but they rarely get breaks.
“They’re definitely the leaders of our team. We have a real small senior class. Not only do they go both but they have to be in good enough shape to not come off the field,” Wilkes said. “We can’t spell them often. We’re calling on them to do a lot and we really don’t have too many options behind them. That’s kind of the difference.”
With 21 players out for camp, Wilkes acknowledged the fact that a handful of key injuries could devastate the Lions’ optimism.
“The hardest part is practice,” Wilkes said. “You can’t go 11-on-11 in practice and you’re not real excited about going full-go because you can’t afford to get anyone injured. You’ve got to get creative with the way you practice.”
The Lions’ 2012 season ended in a first-round, 50-0 playoff loss to Buena Vista. The year before, however, the Lions lost 53-13 in the 1A state semifinals to eventual champion Burlington.
Many of the current players were on the team then and know what it takes to make a run in the playoffs. If the Lions want to get past the first round, or possibly deep into the playoffs, they’ll need more than just Watson and Poulsen.
They’ll need everyone.
Follow Brad on Twitter: twitter.com/BradCochi