Brunswick High School football coach Luke Beal typically opens training camp for the Blue Devils by reminding the team of its goals and what it is going to take from each player to accomplish them.
But it became clear when four Brunswick High students - including two members of the football program - died in a car crash on June 2 that the 2012 gridiron season would be anything but typical.
"Our message to the team was to remember that every day is a gift and we should take nothing for granted," Beal said. "Our motto is to honor our fallen teammates by playing with the enthusiasm and love for the sport that both of them embodied."
Beal recently answered questions about this year's squad and its upcoming season for WKYC's usatodayhss.com Web site.
WKYC's usatodayhss.com: What is your team's motto for the season?
Brunswick football coach Luke Beal: Our motto this year is "12 as 1." The players we lost represent our 12th man.
WKYC: What is the biggest question/uncertainty that you have about your team that you hope to have answered by the start of conference play?
Beal: We have some holes that need to be filled on both the offensive and defensive fronts. That is where we have the toughest competition for positions right now.
WKYC: What are your goals for your team this season?
Beal: Our goal right now is to come together as a team while displaying a great work ethic and positive attitude. As we focus on these goals every day, we strive to become a team that can compete at a championship level.
WKYC: What must happen for your team to be able to accomplish those goals
Beal: We play in a very strong football conference, so we need to prepare for a battle every week. We will have some new faces - especially in the trenches - and they will need to mature quickly, as we play strong opponents immediately.
WKYC: Who are your team's projected leaders/captains this season? What do you expect each to bring to the team?
Beal: We have a strong senior class with many leaders; really, too many to list. However, we do have some returning starters that we expect leadership from this season. Linebacker Brad Darlington and defensive lineman Garrick Koermer both played physical last year and are both leaders on our defense. Quarterback Dan Yohman and running back Keith Yohman are twin brothers who were both starters on the offensive side of the ball and they should provide great leadership there.
WKYC: What do you expect to be your team's greatest strength this season?
Beal: We have a lot of experience at our skilled positions and good overall team speed.
WKYC: What is your team's biggest weakness right now?
Beal: At this point, we have a lack of experience on the offensive and defensive lines. We will need some younger players to step up and mature quickly if we are to have success battling through a difficult schedule.
WKYC: What makes your team this season unique from other area teams?
Beal: This team started off the summer dealing with the tragic deaths of four students, two of those being football players who were loved by all of us. We have faced the hardest type of adversity and it has brought us closer together as a team. We have learned that football is not about wins and losses; it is about the bonds that develop among teammates and about how those bonds become stronger during times of great difficulty.
For more Northeast Ohio high school sports news, scores, photos and videos, visit usatodayhss.com/Cleveland.