Senior James E’Akels is primed for a big year as he begins his third season as the Leo Lions’ starting quarterback.

E’Akels surely has the arm to be an effective passer, and, in Raiyon Davidson, Merrick Sample, Chris Lindo and Rob Smith, the receivers to do some damage through the air. And with speedy Marcus Ray leading a group of promising running backs, the Lions should avoid the temptation to be as pass-happy as they occasionally were in recent years.

But E’Akels is a classic pocket passer, at his best when he has time to set up and scan the field. It will be up to a veteran line—tackles Jakolbi Wilson and William Anderson, guards Kaleb Lawrence and Theontae Jones, center Jamari Allen—to keep E’Akels upright and give him time to do what he does best.

Wilson, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year for the Catholic League Red Division, anchors a defense that should be much improved from the experience gained through a six-game spring season. Cornerback Tim Durr joined Wilson on the Red Division all-conference team. Junior Isaiah Knox and sophomore Joshua Burke bring speed and athletic ability to the linebacker position, and Jamari Allen will contribute to the defensive effort whether he plays end or linebacker.

The Lions once again will play their four home games at St. Rita’s Pat Cronin Field, with three of the four beginning at 7 p.m (the Marmion game on Oct. 16 kicks off at 1 p.m). After a nonconference home opener against Chicago Bulls Academy Charter on Saturday, August 28, the schedule turns typically Catholic League tough, with five wins total required for a playoff berth.