In the 1960s, legendary Green Bay Packers head coach Vince Lombardi preached the principle of "Run to Daylight."
The premise is rather simple, yet effective. And if that plan was good enough for Jim Taylor, Elijah Pitts and Paul Hornung, it's good enough for the Lakeview Sailors. Especially when the Sailors return a tailback like Deke Ison.
Last season, Ison ran for 1,205 yards in just eight games, missing a pair of games due to disciplinary action.
"Deke's a great kid," second-year Lakeview head coach Dan York said. "He made a few bad choices like a lot of teenagers do."
The 200-pound Ison capped last season with 306-yard outburst in a 33-0 win at Mercer, helping the Sailors close 2000 with a 2-game win streak after a 17-game losing skid. Ison ran for over 100 yards in five games last year. He has been clocked at 4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash and will be the focal point of Lakeview's ground-oriented offense.
Finding daylight may be a problem early in the season for the Sailors, however. Injuries have decimated Lakeview's already-thin line corps.
The Sailors prepared for Friday night's opener at Union City with starting center Terry Shearer, guard Phil Badger, tackle Matt Kress and tight end Hans Koller all nursing injuries. A fifth member of the offensive line, guard Brad Watson, also is on the mend.
"Right now, we're trying to patch things together," York said. "If we get healthy, we'll be fine."
York also noted that the Sailors were considering using a 2-tight end set this year with 275-pound Watson shifting to tight end along with 225-pounder Koller. However the injuries have put that plan on hold for now.
The Sailors must also replace graduated quarterback Mitch McAfoose and fullback Buddy Love. Junior Jesse Wasser will likely inherit Love's spot, while sophomore Ryan Muschick has the nod at quarterback, although he is being pressed by senior Larry Boggs.
"Muschick has a little better arm and is a litter bigger," York said. "Larry is a little faster."
Boggs will start at split end while versatile senior Alan Law will play slotback, halfback and flanker, depending upon the formation.
With a 31-player roster, the effect of the line injuries is doubled since most of Lakeview's offensive linemen start on defense, as well. At linebacker, Ison is the only returning starter. He will play either middle or outside linebacker in Lakeview's 4-3 scheme.
"He's the only true linebacker we have right now. We're thin at linebacker," York said.
Chip Moon, who will see some action at tight end on offense, has been moved from the secondary to linebacker while Tyler Shearer is vying for the third spot.
Linebacker was a strength for Lakeview last year with Ison, Love and standout wrestler Drew Rose. For now, the secondary may be the Sailors' strength on defense with Boggs, Wasser and Law all returning.
In the French Creek Valley Conference, York expects a balanced race with Linesville and Cambridge Springs as the two favorites for now.
"From what I understand, Linesville and Cambridge Springs are going to be good," York said. "Union City is gigantic. They have three or four guys over 280 (pounds). I saw Cochranton -- they look real good. Maplewood, no matter who they lose, is always going to be good."
York is assisted by Mike Grimm, Brian Yeager and Greg Ferlin.