LORAIN — For the first time in almost 70 years, Lorain will have one high school football team to root for now that Admiral King and Southview have consolidated and become Lorain High.
The newly christened Titans — who have a new color scheme of silver and navy blue — might not have played a game yet, but there is a feeling of excitement in the city about how these formerly bitter rivals will come together under one banner.
People are so excited that grocery stores are selling "Lorain Titans" bubble gum, and some people are asking head coach Todd Auvil if they should start reserving their playoff tickets.
Auvil doesn't want to burst anyone's bubble, but he would like to take things slowly.
Listen to coach Todd Auvil talk about the season with WEOL's Jim Allen:
"Sure, I'm excited about what we can do, too, but I tell them, 'Let's be realistic,'" said Auvil, who was the head coach at Southview the last three seasons. "Admiral King went 1-9 last season and Southview went 3-7, and one of those wins was a forfeit.
"Do we have something to prove? No doubt about it. For as many supporters I've heard from, there are just as many of those naysayers out there. We've got to prove to them this merger was the right thing to do.
"I told the players, 'Don't let anyone on the bandwagon, because we were on it from the beginning. Let's make it happen.'"
Auvil, who graduated from the original Lorain High School in 1979 and was a longtime assistant at both Lorain and Admiral King before getting the Southview job, is familiar with the different dynamics of the city. But, so far, he said there haven't been any issues resulting from the combining of the two schools.
"I never would have believed things could have progressed the way they have when I took this job back in February," he said. "It's been amazing, no doubt about it."
Auvil, thanks to a government grant, was able to take his entire team to Otterbein College for a weeklong 7-on-7 camp against other high schools. Taking a page from the movie "Remember the Titans" - the inspiration for Lorain's new nickname - Auvil may have fast-forwarded his team's bonding process.
"I set them up that it was a King kid and a Southview kid rooming together all week," he said.
"As the week progressed, me and the coaches were looking around the cafeteria, and we're watching the King and Southview kids sitting together and talking, without any additional prodding from us. It was amazing."
The players say the Otterbein trip was just what they needed.
"Otterbein was great," said junior quarter Collin Bryant, a former Admiral. "We practiced twice a day, and then we had a couple of hours just to bond. It was great for us to come together."
Added junior tackle Rayshawn Smith, a former Saint, "Otterbein really has helped a lot, as far as establishing chemistry and bonding with the former King guys. It gave us a chance to learn who's who, learning things about guys you really didn't know."
Thanks to the merger, Lorain has plenty of talent and depth. Every position seems to have a starter back from one of last year's varsities. The numbers are so large that Auvil will go with a junior/senior exclusive varsity even though there were 40 freshmen and 40 sophomores who came out for the team.
"From what we we're used to, this is truly a luxury now," Auvil said. "I told my offensive line coaches, 'Give me 13 legitimate linemen,' and they came back and said, 'We have 25.' We had some great skill players at Southview, but didn't have size to get it done up front. Now we have the size, the speed, the overall talent to do some great things here."
With 35 juniors and only 16 seniors, the Titans may be a year away from truly tapping into their potential. Just don't try telling that to this year's team.
"We've got so much talent," Bryant said. "If we can just go out there and go 10-0, it would be so great for this city. That's my goal, 10-0."
Ex-Southview junior Christian Nogueras, who took third in the long jump at the state track meet, will team up with ex-King senior Tevin Jones to form what should be a formidable offensive backfield.
Ex-Admiral Justin Linder, a senior, was an All-Lorain County, All-Lake Erie League and All-Ohio selection at defensive tackle last season, and fellow seniors (and former Admirals) Shawn Hazelwood (defensive end), Paul Juhasz (free safety) and Amon Willis (defensive end) are expected to lead the defense.
"It's all very exciting for me," Auvil said. "Thirty-one years ago, I ran out of that fieldhouse at George Daniel Field and played for the Lorain Steelmen and was extremely proud of that. Even though it's the Lorain Titans, it's still Lorain, and I couldn't be more privileged to be coaching where I'm at."
More high school football previews
- Elyria ready to chase playoffs
- EC has plenty to be excited about
- Midview has depth, confidence, too
- Rangers staying hungry
- Keystone counting on defense
- Wellington plans to throw more
- Avon Lake needs a runner
- Amherst expects to be even better this year
- Oberlin staying positive despite heavy graduation losses
- Lorain has high hopes for Titans
- Clippers feel new guys are prepared
- Columbia thinks this season could be a special one
- Brookside’s comfort level rising
- Are Sailors on the way back up?
- Olmsted Falls relying on excellent senior class
- Firelands’ focus on present, not future
- Avon looks to return to playoffs
- Pay-to-pay hasn’t derailed North Olmsted’s optimism
- Black River loaded with talent
- Lutheran West hoping to stay healthy this season
- Coach thinks Westlake will have big year
Contact Dan Gilles at 329-7135 or email@example.com.