LORAIN — For the first time, the Lorain Titans football team will be Titans through and through.
The seniors on the 2014 squad are part of the first class that did not start somewhere else.
They were not Southview or Admiral King students that came together when Lorain City Schools consolidated its high schools.
This group has always been Titans and first-year coach Dave McFarland has put the season in their hands, three-year starting quarterback Eddie Williamson in particular.
“This senior class has stepped things up and we’ve really come together as a team,” Williamson said. “We’ve never really looked at each other as separated because we all came together as a freshman class. We never experienced the separation of coming from different schools.”
Senior linebacker Rob Oursler agrees, and thinks the Titans have a lot of pride in their school.
“The community is really behind us,” Oursler said. “We’ve had a lot of people coming to the scrimmages and practices. That makes us want to work harder and really makes us all proud to come from Lorain.”
McFarland believes the senior class has eliminated any thoughts of separation.
“In the time I’ve been here it’s been one school,” he said. “The kids treat each other with dignity and respect.
“The reason we have 100 kids (out for football this year) is because our seniors treat the younger kids with respect. We have a great environment for learning on the football field.”
Williamson has been a key.
“I couldn’t be happier with Eddie’s leadership and I’ve kind of given him the keys to the car,” McFarland said. “He’s my guy and we’re going to be as good as Eddie is. He’s bought in to everything I’ve tried to emphasize, and when he first saw our system he had to think about how it was different from everything he had run in the past.
“His leadership has been outstanding. In fact, all the seniors have shown incredible leadership.”
Lorain has a tough conference schedule, including road games against Elyria, Cleveland Heights and Maple Heights. On the field will be a definite challenge, but what has McFarland particularly excited is what’s going on off it.
“Our first point of emphasis has been academics and doing the right things,” McFarland said. “We want to be men of good character because that’s really where it all starts. If you’re going to be a reliable football player you have to be reliable in all aspects of life.”
The Titans will have a pair of Division I recruits looking to finish their careers on a winning note. Defensive end Rashod Berry has received at least 10 scholarship offers, including offers from Big Ten schools. Running back Sherman Saunders is also getting some attention from the college scouts.
Both players, along with Williamson, received plenty of postseason accolades after their junior seasons. Berry was second team Division I All-Ohio while all three were all-district honorees.
McFarland is looking for big things from Saunders.
“I put a lot of pressure on him, but I have high expectations for Sherman Saunders,” McFarland said.
Williamson, who has been sticking the football in Saunders’ belly for a long time, knows the running back will have plenty of help up front.
“Sherman makes big plays in crunch time, but he also makes big plays in general,” Williamson said. “The offensive line is big and fast and they key on every block. They make good adjustments and really worked hard in the offseason to get bigger and stronger. They’ve stepped up to every challenge.”
McFarland has been encouraged by the positive energy surrounding the Titans thus far.
“The community, the kids and the school have been phenomenal,” he said. “Whatever you can imagine, things that have happened in a community like Avon, they’re happening right here in Lorain. I don’t know if people see and hear that enough.
“We’ve had parents coming out to help, feeding the kids, doing car washes. We had them out here cooking after practice the other day. We have all the great qualities of every other school and when we emphasize those good things, great things will happen for our kids.”
Contact Mike Perry at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
CONFERENCE: Lake Erie League
2013 RECORD: 3-6 (2-4)
COACH: Dave McFarland (1st season)
RETURNING STARTERS: 9
PLAYOFF APPEARANCES: 0
NUMBERS GAME: 40 ... freshmen in the football program, which sports more than 100 players overall.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Quarterback Eddie Williamson has plenty of weapons around him and loads of varsity experience to draw upon. Could be one of the most unheralded players in Lorain County.
Aug. 29 at Midview
Sept. 5 at Elyria
Sept. 12 Toledo Start
Sept. 19 Toledo Scott
Sept. 26 Shaw*
Oct. 3 at Bedford*
Oct. 10 at Maple Heights*
Oct. 17 Euclid*
Oct. 24 at Cleveland Heights*
Oct. 31 Warren Harding*
* Lake Erie League game
All games at 7 p.m.