Lebanon,Ore. -- On paper the Lebanon Warriors are a good looking high school football team. But if you were to stop by the field and witness the grit of a Warrior practice, you'd see firsthand how physically gifted this 2019 squad really is. And that physicality is led by junior phenom Keith Brown.
"He's a 16 year-old boy that's learning to become a man and physically looks like a 20 year-old," says Lebanon head coach Ty Tomlin. "So he's got a lot of growth to do too and he knows that."
Brown is a four-star recruit at the inside linebacker position, who's gathered a lot of recognition from Pac-12 schools like Oregon, Oregon State, UCLA and Washington. And all that attention is good for him, his school and his teammates.
"If I can be the guy who brings the college looks in, then who knows?" Brown says. "From D-line to O-line to receivers and DB's, they start getting looks too then that's great. I want that more than anything. For everyone on my team to play at the next level would be amazing."
"I don't see any pressure at all," says teammate and Lebanon wide receiver Dane Sipos. "I mean Keith he's going to do his thing and getting famous. But we just have to do our thing and we got to show up."
The Warriors will be showing up with a chip on their shoulders. Last year they had an early exit from the 5A State playoffs. This year? They want some hardware.
"Of course we want a championship," Keith mentions. "I mean who doesn't? But our focus is a league title. Then state title. And if we get there, then let's win it. But if we don't get there, then we look back, see how we did and worry about next year."
Building a championship caliber team takes time. One of the most important factors is establishing chemistry between the players and coaches. And the Warriors have that taken care of with a couple handshakes.
"That's something I always remembered as a player," Tomlin recalls. "You weren't ignored. It's just something I really believe in. Our first priority is to create great young men and I don't think you can do that if they don't think you care about them in some way."
Lebanon kicks off its 2019 campaign this Friday night against Corvallis.