Thursday, Feb. 26, 2009 | 1 a.m.
The Del Sol baseball field was relatively quiet this past summer.
With the departure of former coach Zenon Brooks after the 2008 season, the Dragons waited to see what direction the program would take while other teams prepared for the future by evaluating young talent on their American Legion or Southern Nevada Baseball Coaches League affiliate teams.
When Del Sol offered the position to new coach Brock Taylor, a 10-year coaching veteran in Washington who helmed Clark's team in 2002, he said it was too late to launch much of a summer program.
"We had some parents that stepped up and did their best to keep the kids playing over the summer, but the lack of a consistent, competitive summer program cost us a bit," Taylor said. "We have a lot of work to do in one of the most, if not the most, competitive divisions in the state. It won't be easy."
The Southeast Division pits Del Sol against perennial powerhouses like Green Valley High, Silverado and Coronado, but Taylor said the groundwork has been laid in recent years to help the Dragons reach the playoffs.
A 4-10 league record last year put the Dragons in a tie with Foothill for sixth place and one game behind fifth place Liberty. A year prior, the Dragons narrowly missed their first playoff appearance by one game with an 8-6 league mark.
"Brooks did some nice things for the program and I don't want to see that die," Taylor said. "We lost some good seniors to graduation but we still have a lot of talent left — especially in some of our younger players. It's going to be an enormous amount of work but we will be competitive."
Taylor will rely on the core group of seniors including Chris Hampton, Matt Lemos, Randy Klabacka, Jeff Chronister, Scottez Dobbins and newcomer Jerett Tufono to lead the younger players during the early stages of the coaching transition.
"It's been pretty easy on us. We all liked coach Brooks but I think this change has been for the best," Hampton said. "Coach Taylor has been really good about getting us ready for the season. I feel like we're better right now than we were last year. There's more team unity already."
Taylor said the easiest way to build team unity is by stressing his philosophy of hard work while keeping things fun for his players.
"The biggest thing for us when we're trying to play catch-up with some of the other teams in our division is to keep things simple," Taylor said. We want to go back to the basics and keep things fun. You can compete at a high level and still have fun and that's what we need at Del Sol right now."
Dobbins said Taylor has provided motivation to get the Dragons ready to start building their team when practice officially begins on Feb. 28.
"We have a lot of ground to cover but we're doing it the right way," Dobbins said. "Most of us have been playing together for four years now so we're ready to make a run. We have a lot of speed, we hit, we defend and we have some very good pitching. I think we can compete with anyone we have to."
Jared Harmon can be reached at 990-8922 or firstname.lastname@example.org.