LIMA — Football fans don’t have to wait for late August to get their fix of football. The Lima Warriors are in town and boast a 4-1 record overall and a perfect 4-0 record in the Heartland Football League.
The Warriors are ranked 18th in the nation and will take on the Columbus Fire, who are currently ranked second in the nation, at 7:05 p.m. Saturday at Lima Stadium.
Columbus (7-0) is trying to take the top seed in the HFL South with a win over Lima.
The Warriors returned Rich Stotts as their head coach for the 2013 season. Stotts was the head coach for Lima in 2011 and served as the team’s defensive coordinator in 2012. Stotts has compiled an overall record of 18-2.
“I kind of got burnt out a couple of years ago,” Stotts said. “I was the head coach, defensive coordinator, president of the team and a deputy commissioner of our league all at the same time. It was a little too much that year and I took a step back (for 2012).”
Stotts, who is the assistant principal of Brookhaven High School, is pleased with the way his team has come together so far this season.
“We have a new offensive coordinator and a nice blend of some young guys and old guys,” Stotts said. “A lot of guys retired last year, so this is a year of us getting pieces to fit. It’s getting better every game.”
Being a semi-professional football team, a lot of people don’t realize what the players and staffs have to do to make the team function.
“There are a bunch of guys who do work behind the scenes and they’re people that love the sport of football,” Stotts said. “When I became a coach, I was surprised on the level of play and professionalism. I love the players on the team and our team camaraderie. It’s a special thing.”
After taking over the team this season, Stotts pointed out two important goals he wanted to get through to his players.
“The first point is to allow guys who want to keep playing football after their high school or college careers the chance to keep playing,” Stotts said. “The next one is to help get guys to the next level.”
Stotts helped Travis Lewis, a former Eastern Michigan football player and Lima Warrior, get a chance to play for the Marion Blue Racers of the Xtreme Indoor Football League.
Since Stotts is a defensive-minded coach, it only makes since he remains in charge of the defense. Lima plays a 3-3-5 defense similar to the old West Virginia Mountaineer defense. The Warriors will mix up the coverage going man and zone in the back end at different times.
“We want to attack on defense,” Stotts said. “When I breakdown film, I want to take away the opponent’s top two things that they want to do. We bring a five- or six-man pressure every single time. We live by the blitz and die by the blitz and rotate two deep.”
Stotts leaves the offense in control of new offensive coordinator Jim Worden. Worden brings 18 years of football coaching experience.
“Jim brings a wealth of experience,” Stotts said. “We are blessed to have him and I let him run the offense.”
The Warriors try to bring a balanced approach on offense. David Johnson had 139 yards and a touchdown last week against the 35-12 win over the Pickerington Wildcats.
“We have gone back to an old-school approach of ball control and field position,” Stotts said. “We want to be consistent and not turn the ball over. We have some great athletes and we are 50-50 run and pass. We want to attack the middle with the run and pass.”