BY JEFF FALK
LEBANON – At the beginning of every season, optimism abounds, everybody’s undefeated and everyone is a contender. Hope springs eternal.
Annually, that is never more true than it is for the Lebanon football program.
But there’s something different about the Cedars this season – the way they carry themselves, the way they act, the way they project. The hype feels real.
“Our goal is to have a winning season, and we’d like to make the postseason,” said Gerry Yonchiuk, who’s in his 14th season of heading Lebanon’s program. “It’s not arrogance or confidence, it’s realistic. The goal is to win Section Three. There’s a lot of talent in our division, but we’re taking the approach ‘Why not us?’. I love the ingredients that we have. We do have high expectations, but they’re fair and realistic goals.
“It’s taking steps, climbing the mountain,” continued Yonchiuk. “Having all these kids back, we can work on certain areas without having to teach first. Having the experience back, I expect us to take the next step as football players. We want to compete in every game we play. I’m excited about the season. I really think we’re going to have a solid year. I really like the make-up of the team.”
The Cedars certainly have a lot to be excited about.
A move to Section Three helped Lebanon with some depth issues it had experienced in the past, and ultimately led to a 5-5 campaign. The Cedars were more fundamentally sound and were competitive in nearly every contest, except in a season-opening loss to Cedar Crest in the Cedar Bowl.
“What I liked about last season was that it was a solid year and a positive learning experience,” said Yonchiuk. “We saw results because we were in Section Three. We did a real nice job in Section Three. We started seven sophomores on offense, and they kept getting better. That was a positive for our program.
“Our guys going into the 11th grade were undefeated in seventh grade,” added Yonchiuk. “Winning is their only experience. They (the seniors and juniors) mix and match together so well. It’s so important for the classes to mesh together.”