Shared from the 10/6/2016 San Antonio Express eEdition


‘We just come out and play’

Old-school Lanier has reversed its fortunes

Tom Reel / San Antonio Express-News

Quarterback J.D. Boone and Lanier have started 3-0 in District 28-5A play after an 0-2 beginning to the season. The Voks went 3-17 over their previous two seasons and haven’t reached the playoffs since 2013.

The Lanier Voks are a no-fuss, no-muss football team.

They take the field running through butcher paper with something painted on it. “Lasso the Mustangs,” read the banner before they took the field against Jefferson last Thursday at Alamo Stadium.

There’s no inflatable helmet. No smoke machine.

Their helmets — sans a logo on the sides — are white with a silver and blue (school colors) stripe over the crown. Across the back reads, “VOKS.”

It’s simple — and it says everything.

“We’re kind of like an old-school team,” senior offensive tackle Jesse Mann said. “With us, we’re not that much of a show-off team. We’re out there on the field, and that’s really all that matters. We’re doing the best we can as a team.”

The Voks are an embodiment of veteran coach Don Gatian, who is in his 19th season at Lanier.

“He’s really tough on us,” senior cornerback Damian Tovar said of Gatian. “But, when we win, he’s not as tough on us. … We don’t need the logos and everything. We just come out and play the game we love.”

That effort has vaulted the Voks atop the District 28-5A standings. At 3-0, Lanier is the only undefeated team in district play. The Voks are trailed closely by Sam Houston (3-1), Brackenridge (3-1), Edison (2-1) and Highlands (2-1).

After opening the season with losses to Holy Cross and Pleasanton, the Voks have turned it around.

Why the tough start?

“Mental mistakes, penalties, dropped balls, misalignments,” senior wide receiver Adrian Lozoya said.

The Voks had a bye week to fix things before district, and they have seen a difference.

“We’ve been playing more as a team,” Lozoya said. “We’re stronger, but we’re not done playing yet.”

As a third-year letter-winner, Tovar has seen the Voks endure tough times. Lanier was 3-17 over the previous two seasons. After their 0-2 start, Tovar wondered if this season was going to derail in similar fashion.

“I was thinking that,” Tovar said. “During the bye week, we watched film and our motivation really went up. After those two games, we decided we didn’t want to lose anymore.”

They haven’t. The Voks have posted district wins against Highlands, Kennedy and Jefferson.

The Voks’ turnaround has not only given the team a boost of confidence, but the players have noticed their stands are a little more filled. They want to bring the pride back to the West Side.

“We’re trying to have a good season, and we’re trying to bring the community back,” Mann said. “We want to continue this because it’s an amazing feeling.”

The Voks haven’t made the playoffs since 2013, when they went 4-7. They haven’t registered a winning season since 2011, when they were 7-4.

After their hot start in district play, the Voks have positioned themselves to break those dry spells, but plenty of work remains. The Voks still have to play Sam Houston, Edison and Brackenridge. The Voks play Sam Houston on Friday night at the SAISD Complex.

“We have a lot of confidence right now,” Mann said. “We’re not going to let that 3-0 get to us. We still have a lot of games and tough opponents. We’re going to go game by game and try our best.” Twitter: @hinojosa_david

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