By Dan McGrath

How well the new blends with the old will determine the football fate of the Leo Lions this season.

The opener is Saturday, Aug. 27, with a 3 p.m. kickoff vs. Bulls Academy Prep at St. Rita’s Cronin Field. The Lions were originally scheduled to open on the road, but an issue with the Bulls Prep playing field prompted a switch to St. Rita.

Veteran two-way performers Tim Durr, Kevin Jackson and Isiah Knox will provide Leo with valuable experience on both sides of the ball, Durr at running back/cornerback, Jackson at wide receiver/cornerback and Knox at fullback/linebacker.

Fellow senior Merrick Sample, younger brother of former Lions standout Tobias Sample, is a home-run threat as a receiver/kick returner, and senior Coby Triplett will run the routes that made Austin Ford such a vital part of the Lions’ offense last season. Juniors Garry Brown and Theauntae “House” Jones anchor the offensive line.

Junior Joshua Burke, a starter since his freshman season, moves from linebacker to defensive end, where he’ll pair up with sophomore Nick Armour.

But a lot is riding on the development of Darion Lee, a sophomore starter at quarterback. Coach Mike Holmes likes what he has seen of the youngster so far.

“He throws a nice ball, he understands the offense, and he’s learning to move around back there,” Holmes said.

An expert on movement is helping with the process. Aamir Holmes, Coach Holmes’ son, was known for his scrambling ability during a Lawless Award-winning career as Leo’s quarterback. The younger Holmes has joined the coaching staff and is working with quarterbacks Lee and Matthew Harvey.

“It’s asking a lot of a sophomore to play quarterback in the Catholic League, but we think Darion can handle it,” Mike Holmes said. “We’re doing all we can to get him ready.”