A new level of motivation has arisen for the Pusch Ridge Lions football team under new Head Coach Troy Cropp, who has started a more organized and efficient training program.

Coming off a 2-8 record last year, the Lions look forward to this next season as a time to rebuild and win more games.  

Cropp believes that the new training program that focuses on balance, speed, and plyometrics will improve his players’ strength and build confidence when facing higher competition.

The new training program has not only been implemented into the high school program, but also the younger football programs, starting as early as third grade.  

The biggest challenge that Cropp said the team will face is overcoming a lack of confidence due to last season.  He believes that the first step toward building confidence is believing in the new training program.

“It’s a new commitment level and players have to buy into that,” said Cropp. “They need to build unity and work tremendously hard.”

Leading the team is a group of nine seniors: Grayson Bargohls, Jared Hout, Elijah McKenna, Robert Ferrari, Parker Gotcher, Joey Lowery, Adan Moreno, Will King, and Tim Yarborough.  

All of these players help contribute to the top strength of their team: smartness to playing the game of football.

“The guys have a football intelligence,” said Cropp. “They understand what we’re doing and why we are doing it.”

One player that will bring a lot of experience to the team is senior Bargohls, a defensive back and receiver.  Being Third-Team All-Arizona his junior year, Cropp expects Bargohls to have a big season.

(Editor’s Note: See more on the Lions’ 2012 season at www.explorernews/high_school_sports.)

“He is a gamer and works really hard,” said Cropp. “His intensity and size will help our team out.”

Also, in the senior lineup are Hout and Lowery who Cropp says are both leaders, possess a lot of humility, and will do what it takes to help the team.  

Other players include junior quarterback Jacob Frithsen and sophomores Mitch Reilly, Taylor Fitzgerald, and Kif Nichols.

The Lions bring to this season a new level of motivation and determination that rivaling teams be forced to contend with.

The Lions had a tough first week outing, losing the home opener 38-0 to Joy Christian.

The Lions look to get back on track in the second week when they host Empire at 7 p.m. on Aug. 31.

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