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The 2012 Dragons line up to have their team photo taken. Photo by G. Ouzounian (click for larger version)
August 15, 2012 - Sometimes the best way to fix a problem is admit there was one.

That appears to be what Chris Bell, head coach of the Lake Orion Dragons varsity football team, is doing. When asked about the early exit his team had in the 2011 football season, Bell said the team simply was not very good. He said there was too many mistakes at key times in close games and that in close games those mistakes cost the Dragons wins.

"2011 was not a great year for our program. Even though we were co-champions in our division and qualified for state playoffs for the 11th straight season, we were disappointed with a 6-4 finish," said Bell. "We look much better this season. We return four starters on defense along with multiple players who saw game time in 2011. We return five starters on offense, again along with others who saw significant playing time. We have a strong class of juniors to go with a talented class of seniors and it should be an explosive, athletic and very good football team."

Still, the team, which has trained since the beginning of summer, is not getting over confident. The team has talent according to Bell, but the season will be determined by the players ability to have mental and physical toughness. Each player needs the mental toughness to remember and execute their individual assignments in the intensity of the football field and the physical toughness to win one on one battles with their opponent, according to Bell.

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"It's why football is so great," he said.

The team has a number of strengths to play off this season - chief among them according to Bell are the players speed and experience in the skill positions on both offense, defensive secondary and at linebacker. The team is athletic in those spots and have several players that saw significant game time in 2011. A kicker is also returning.

Senior Derek Delaura is taking over as starting quarterback for the well-liked Sean Charette and while Bell said four year starter would be missed, the present talent would be enough.

"We plan on being effective, but you just don't replace Sean Charette," said Bell. "He's a great guy and player but we have great players all over the place. (Delaura) will do fine.

Other returning players to watch, according to Bell, are Derek Williams, Nick Booker, Brandon Clements (on defense), Jake Miller, and Chaz Miller (on offense.)

But every strength has a weakness and the 2012 Dragons are no exception. Their offensive and defensive lines will not lack size or talent, said Bell, but they will lake experience at the start of the season. Additionally, Delaura will, for the first time, be starting quarterback. But Bell said the team is only worried about the week ahead, when on Aug. 24 at 7 p.m. the Dragons will once again face off against their rivals to the north - the Oxford Wildcats.

"We'll concentrate on every team when we're facing them, but this week we're just worrying about Oxford," said Bell, when asked which team concerned him this season. "We don't look at anyone else but week one."

2012 marks the 15th year Bell will be acting as head coach of the Dragons and the 18th year as head coach of a football team.

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