Vodika, Lakota building for success
Written by KEVIN GORDON, Sentinel Assistant Sports Editor
Wednesday, 11 July 2012 09:15
KANSAS - Lakota's football team is stressing hard work, dedication and keeping a positive attitude.
The Raiders believe those ingredients will help them become successful under head coach Dave Vodika.
Vodika is in his first as season as the head coach after serving as the Raiders' offensive coordinator last season.
He replaced Jim Kelly, who was 10-30 overall and 5-23 in league play during his four seasons. The Raiders were members of the Suburban Lakes League and the Midland Athletic League during Kelly's tenure.
"I don't know how successful we're going to be right off, but we're going to be competitive and we're gong to work hard," Vodika said. "The kids are going to get the pats on the back and the rewards for moving the program in the right direction."
Lakota was 1-9 last season after an 0-10 record in 2010.
"The past doesn't matter," Vodika said. "The pages are written and in the history book. We're working on the pages that haven't been written. We're anxious for the season, but we're trying to be patient with the process.
"The thing we lack is a strong belief system … that we will physically force our way into a championship, which is what all the strong teams believe. That all starts in the weight room and getting the kids to understand and believe the pot of gold is at the end of the road because it's a long, hard climb to get up over the rainbow."
Vodika praised the Raiders' senior leadership. The team could return as many as eight players on offense and four on defense who saw significant playing time last season, although the players might not play the same position.
The only other holdover from the previous coaching staff is defensive coordinator Chad Howard.
"About a third of the team is convinced we're there, and we'll keep working on the others," Vodika said. "We're going to make this a lot of fun and we're going to make it a real positive experience.
"But it can't be one person. It has to be all of us, players and coaches. We're building trust in the players."
Although Lakota hasn't had much success the last three seasons, it was 7-3 overall and 5-2 in the SLL in 2006, and 6-4, 4-3 in 2007. The Raiders then were 5-5, 4-3 in 2008 when Kelly was in his first season.
"Football is more than winning on Friday," Vodika said. "It's about dedication, setting goals, working real hard. I don't think there's any sport that teaches teamwork more than football.
"We also teach a lot of life lessons and we get people ready to make sacrifices for the greater good. We're not all about winning football games. We're about teaching them how to become men and teaching them responsibility and to have a focus that is team oriented."
Vodika said the Raiders will run the ball offensively and use a five-man defensive front.
"We'll be like a Big Ten (Conference) team -¬†we'll run the ball, run the ball, run the ball, and then we'll do other things when you stack your defense to stop the run," Vodika said. "Our defensive will be tough and aggressive."
Among the returnee offensively are senior running back Tiger Jaso, and quarterbacks Kody Brewer and Collin Timmons. Brewer is a senior, while Timmons is a junior.
The line will include juniors Jack Raymond, Jordan Smith, Mac Flanagan and Brandon Carver. Vodika said Flanagan and Carver both are about 6-foot-4, 275 pounds.
The top defensive returnees, Vodika said, are linebackers Timmons and junior Josh Kirkpatrick.
Vodika said the Raiders graduated their wide receivers and defensive backs.
Lakota has approximately 35-40 players on its roster.
"We're trying to put the players in the right position where we feel they can help the team the most," Vodika said. "The coaches and players talked to every kid in the school who had a pulse last winter and spring trying to get more kids out. The kids did a great job of trying to get their buddies out."
Vodika, 61, is Lakota's in-school suspension monitor.
He also has been a head coach for two seasons at Norwayne High School, and has been an assistant at Medina Highland, Orrville and Canton McKinley.
Vodika is a former principal at Mansfield Christian. He played college football at Cincinnati and was a football and track standout at Orrville where he is a member of the school's athletic hall of fame.
"If we could get it going here and win a championship, what a source of pride it would be for everyone associated with the team and the community," Vodika said. "I'm really excited to be here and I'm committing a number of years to this. This is kind of my last hurrah.
"This program has some great possibilities. We're not there yet, but we're going to get there."