59th Dental Squadron wide receiver Nakeithian Phillips runs down field during a scrimmage game Aug. 23. The squad is preparing to defend its Joint Base San Antonio intramural flag football title. (U.S. Air Force photo/Alan Boedeker)
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas —
When the intramural flag football season starts Sept. 10, 59th Dental Squadron wide receiver Lavon Harrison hopes quarterback Ricky Guajardo sees him downfield waiting for a few passes.
When passes come his way, Harrison says he is a happy camper.
"As long as Rick is looking for me down the field, I'm looking forward to the season," Harrison said.
"I'm always open, but he doesn't like throwing me the ball. At least, look at me when you're throwing the ball," Harrison joked.
All kidding aside, the boisterous Harrison isn't apprehensive about guaranteeing that the 59th DS can have a second straight undefeated season culminating with a repeat as Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland and JBSA intramural flag football champions.
"I know what we are capable of," Harrison said. "It's no disrespect when I tell a team that we are going to beat them, but I know how good our team is and how much we practice."
Dental's quest to preserve JBSA flag football dominance began two months ago with its first team practice. But, there have been a few minor bumps along the way.
The reigning JBSA champions had to look for a new quarterback due to a conflict with Guajardo's college schedule. He currently studies political science at Northwest Vista College.
Fortunately, Guajardo was able to adjust his schedule so he could join his teammates in defending their JBSA-Lackland crown.
"I've missed these guys," said Guajardo, who retired from the Air Force in May 2011. "It's been more than eight months since we last played.
Now the spouse of an active-duty Airman, Guajardo said, "We have a few new players here, but they're good players who are coming out.
"They are a little inexperienced, but with more experience, they are going to get better and better," he said.
The defending champions are picking up where they left off last year - working on the little things on offense and defense to stay sharp.
Guajardo added an additional exercise to ensure his players stay focused during their title defense.
Last year, players did pushups if they made mistakes on defense. This year, they will have to run laps along with doing the pushups.
Running laps helps the team with conditioning, Guajardo said, and the "conditioning will assist players when some have to pull double duty on both sides of the ball - offense and defense.
"A lot of these guys are going to be on leave throughout the season," Guajardo said. "We have 15 guys right now, but by the time the season starts and it progresses, we might be down to nine or 10.
"Some of them might have to go both ways so we incorporated the running to help them stay physically fit."
It takes team effort to tackle the pressures of being the hunted as the team to beat this season.
The JBSA champs are ready to face the pressure head on.
"After we won the championship last season, we said that we were the team to beat this year," said wide receiver Nakeithian Phillips. "Now, we get a lot of emails from our competition saying, 'Y'all are going down this year and Dental is nothing.' All we say to them is, 'See you on the field.'"
Guajardo admires his players' desire to play better than they did during last year's undefeated season.
"It's hard to repeat the success of being undefeated throughout the whole season," Guajardo said, "but they love the challenge and that's what I love about my teammates."