The Discovery Spartans were road warriors in their first season of varsity football and will be again this season. The school plans to have a home stadium within the next couple of years, but for now, the Spartans are on the road again for all 10 games.
Still, Discovery went 4-6 and returns a strong core as head coach John Livingston looks to continue to build the program.
“Going into our second season, we’re still focused on building that culture that’s based on character and academics, first and foremost,” Livingston said. “They just create a family atmosphere.”
Being able to spend the entire summer together in the weight room for the first time has been key to establishing that atmosphere. It also should help the Spartans be strong at the end of games. Discovery had a couple of games it was in during the third quarter before fading because of lack of depth and not being strong enough to close out the game.
The Spartans will run out of a spread formation.
“Our philosophy is to pass to set up the run,” Livingston said. “We’re looking to be 60 percent pass and 40 percent run.”
Sophomore Zach Tanner, a transfer from Lake Region, takes over at quarterback. Discovery had three players last year attempt between 41 and 56 passes. Jere Davis, who will play defensive back this year, was the most prolific passer with 452 yards.
Tanner is a smart player with a high football IQ who reads defenses well and is poised in the pocket.
“I’m looking forward to seeing his growth this year,” Livingston said.
Anthony Ballard, who had 30 receptions last year, is the go-to receiver and is an explosive playmaker. There will be about five others in the mix, including sophomore Taden Krzeminski.
Cori Davis is slated to be the top running back. He led Discovery with 572 yards and is also a receiving threat. Senior captain Jacob Caroccio will lead the offensive line that returns just two starters.
Discovery will run a 4-3 defense this season and the big focus is stopping the run, something the Spartans struggled with at times last year. The Spartans are fast and aggressive, but lack size.
The strength of the defense is safety Jere Davis, the defensive captain, and linebackers Kollin Meek and Collin Mier.
The key to improving its run defense starts up front. Trey Dorsent, a 6-2, 235-pound sophomore, and Chance Jones, a 5-11, 165-pound junior, are solid defensive ends. The Spartans are trying to develop players at defensive tackle.
In addition to Davis, Ballard and Anderson Exantus make the secondary a strong point.
Livingston is optimistic that his team can take that next step and not only have a winning record, but also be in the mix for a playoff berth.