The Washington Blue Lions played a lot of young players during games last season, and it showed in the standings. With a year under their belt, the Blue Lions want to improve on their three wins from a season ago and get back in the battle with the rest of the South Central Ohio League.

Last season, the Blue Lions failed to win outside of the SCOL, finishing with a 3-7 mark on the season (3-4 SCOL), but their three wins did come on their home field of Gardner Park where the Blue Lions defeated East Clinton, Hillsboro and McClain. In those three wins, Washington outscored their opponents by a combined 27 points.

The Blue Lions won over East Clinton, 15-12, followed by a 27-20 win over McClain and a 39-22 victory over Hillsboro.

This season, the Blue Lions have 18 seniors, as Washington head coach Corey Dye said it is the most seniors they've had on the roster in "quite some time."

"I can’t remember a senior class being this big since probably the 2001 class," he said. "We’ve had quite a few seniors come out this year who haven’t played in quite a while, but as far as two-a-days and workouts have gone, the seniors have done an excellent job as far as leading and really getting this program ready to go."

Overall in '14, the Blue Lions were outscored 408-138, including being shut out on three occasions.

One way the Blue Lions plan to fix that is by the gains they made in the weight room this past spring and summer under strength coach Mark Bihl.

"We’ve had a real good summer. Coach (Mark) Bihl had a really good turnout as far as weights this past spring and summer," Dye said. "The kids really bought into his program, and it’s really shown.

“Our kids have all had quite a bit of strength gains in all areas. I think we’ve picked up quite a bit of speed, and we’ve just been really pleased with the overall program."

Washington enters this season not only stronger, but more experienced with around 15 returning starters, including a battle at the quarterback position where both junior Jarett Patton and senior C.J. Taylor are both athletic enough that whomever doesn't become the starting quarterback will play elsewhere on the offense. 
 
"It’s nice having two guys battle it out for the starting job," Dye said. "We haven’t announced who that is yet, but both have great strengths, and over the next several weeks when we do our scrimmages, we’ll be able to sit down and evaluate and figure out who that guy might be. 
 
"The nice thing about it is both of them are good enough athletes that if they’re not playing there, they can possibly play another position. They’re both good friends. It’s really nice to see friendly competition. With our numbers being up and having a lot of seniors out, it’s really made a lot of competition amongst the whole entire group. Whenever you have competition, it makes for good practices, and teams will get better that way."
 
What Dye is excited for this season is the Blue Lions' experience. He knows the record wasn't near where they wanted to be last season, but he played sophomores last season who had to get used to the speed of the varsity game. 
 
"We started quite a few young kids last year, and when you have to start sophomores and guys that have inexperience, it just makes for a rough year," Dye said. "The speed of the game … a lot of sophomores struggled early with how fast the game is played, but by the end of the season, they start adapting to it and they turn into juniors. 
 
"It helps you the year after by having that experience at a young age, because we played a lot of guys. I was really pleased with how hard our kids played. Our kids played extremely hard last year. We were in quite a few games, but we lost by some pretty tough opponents. Our schedule didn’t do us justice … it was pretty tough. Last year showed a lot promise, because we have a lot of talent, a lot of skill guys back, a lot of linemen back. Last year we took our beatings, we took our lumps, but it’s only going to make us stronger for this year."
 
Besides the QB battle for the Blue Lions, another player to keep an eye on is senior tackle Chad Moore (6-1, 290 pounds). 
 
"He’s started for the last couple years, and he’s got a lot of experience," Dye said of Moore. "He’s a tough competitor, a big solid kid."
 
Others to also watch out for in '15 are Trevor Hicks (6-5, 250), as Dye described Hicks as "making himself into quite a player," and tight end Mason McCane, who had some big plays last season. 
 
"Mason was second-team all-league, and he had some big plays for us," Dye said. "He plays both sides of the ball, and he’s a really good wrestler."
 
Aaron Greer was another Blue Lion who earned all-league honors last season, while Caden Cluxton returns to the team after getting injured last season. Dye also spoke of Kory Proby, who is now a junior and has worked hard in the weight room as Dye said Proby has "bulked up and gotten himself strong this year."
 
"I’m excited to see what he can do not only on the defensive side of the ball, but the offensive side of the ball," Dye said of Proby. 
 
There are also Kyle Garrett, Timmy Robinson and Eric Barden (returning lettermen), who the coaching staff have high hopes for this season. 
 
"Coaches, each and every year, they’ve got a pretty tough job in putting a team together," Dye said. "Probably one of the hardest things is you’ve got all these different personalities, with all these different talents, and you’ve got to put all the pieces out on the table, put them together and form a team and get them to believe and buy into what you’re selling them. 
 
"I think our kids have done an excellent job of that. That’s why I really feel like we have something special going on with this team. The biggest thing is this team is hungry to win. We didn’t have a whole lot of success last year, and after the season was over, we talked about that. We made a plan on how to get better in the offseason by playing other sports and getting stronger in the weight room.
 
"The expectation this year is to win. We want to win. I think when you can win, it makes everything better. We’ve got a tough schedule ahead of us, our league’s tough. We know that. Our non-league schedule is not easy either. We know each and every week, we’ll have to show up and deal with adversity in a positive manner, and as long as we can do that, we’ll have success."
 
The Blue Lions will open the ‘15 season on Friday, Aug. 28 vs. Northridge at Gardner Park.