WARNER ROBINS -- Von Lassiter has been in charge of Houston County’s football program since January of 2013.
While he has been reminded of the Bears’ past, he’s not much interested in it.
So while the 7-4 record in 2013 was big for Houston County -- after all, it was the Bears’ 11th winning season in 22 and first playoff trip since 2006 -- Lassiter put it in the rearview mirror immediately.
“Everybody here knows that 7-4 is not what we’re looking for,” Lassiter said. “We’re working to have a chance to be really, really good. When we get to where we can win every game we play, then everybody’ll be happy.”
But what the season did show was evidence of a work ethic among the players he inherited. That translated to a memorable season that included a win over Warner Robins and a two-game stretch during which the Bears outscored opponents 99-7.
Lassiter chalked it up to the hunger and work ethic more than anything specific to football.
“I don’t have any idea what they did or didn’t do,” Lassiter said. “I just know, years ago, I was taught a program that works ... and (has) guys on staff that had been in very successful programs, we just kind of culminated all that together.
“I think the bottom line is the kids were just hungry to work hard and have a good work ethic, say, ‘Enough is enough, we’re ready for something different.’ ”
But now comes the challenge in taking the next step -- building on that success.
“They want to win, and they’re willing to do what it takes to win,” Lassiter said. “They’ve shown us that all offseason. They’re hungry to win again.”
To that point, the Bears went a little harder in the weight room, having seen what an improvement in that area can do.
“A lot of them have new bodies,” Lassiter said. “They’re bigger and stronger. Use those bodies to work hard on the field and learn what to do. They learn individually, and get better collectively.”
Houston County adjusted well to Lassiter’s up-tempo offensive plan, similar to Oregon. The Bears are in a hurry when they have the ball.
“Spread, no huddle, wide open, as fast as we can run it,” said Lassiter, whose offense had 121 more snaps than the opposition. “They love it. They absolutely love it.”
Sophomore quarterback Jake Fromm, who is already getting FBS attention, will have the reins full-time after going 95-for-179 for 1,206 yards, eight touchdowns and seven interceptions while sharing time with Taylor Boyett.
Kenny Gant, Kory Engram, Jaylen Search, Payton Johnson and Darion Anderson lead the other skill-position returnees.
Transfer Steven Robinet bolsters an offensive line, led by Daniel Jackson and Josh Sisco, that is working toward developing some depth.
Houston County held six opponents to fewer than 20 points and three to fewer than 10.
Linebackers Zach Taisler and Khenon Walker, Anderson in the secondary and lineman Luke Wasson are among the starters returning on defense.
The Bears lost linebacker/running back Marcus Williams, whose family moved to metro Atlanta.
“These kids are the best kids I’ve ever been around,” he said. “They work extremely hard, and they want to win. They’re willing to do what it takes.
“They see what the results of hard work do, and they’re eager to see the results of this year.”
HOUSTON COUNTY 2014
Head coach: Von Lassiter (7-4 in one season overall and at Houston County).
2013 record: 7-4.
2014 region: GHSA 2-AAAAA.
Returning starters: 7 on offense; 6 on defense.
Players to watch: Jake Fromm (Soph., QB); Zach Taisler (Sr., LB).
Aug. 28 Veterans
Sept. 5 at Grovetown
Sept. 13 Richmond Academy
Sept. 19 vs. Warner Robins
Sept. 26 at Lakeside
Oct. 10 Cross Creek
Oct. 16 Jones County
Oct. 24 at Greenbrier
Oct. 31 Evans
Nov. 7 vs. Northside