Lakers look to seniors for leadership this football season
In August 21-27 Special Section
Coach Bill Sharp and his Russell County Laker football team is poised to redeem themselves after a 3-8 record and first round playoff exit last year and, according to Sharp, he has the senior leadership to do it with.
The Lakers return most of their offensive firepower from a season ago, giving them a shot of hosting a pivotal first round playoff game if they can take care of business in the second district of region one in Class 4A.
“We expect to compete in the district as we do every year,” Sharp said. “That’s our number one expectation right now.”
Sharp said hosting a playoff game was “vitally important” as the Kentucky High School Athletic Association has changed the format of district play.
“If we don’t get to host, we’re going all the way to the Lone Oak-Paducah area,” he said. Sharp said his team’s work would be cut out for them with tough district opponents like Franklin-Simpson, Logan County and Warren East, who defeated them in last season’s playoffs.
“We just want to play hard and have fun,” he said. Sharp said his practices had been up and down thus far, mainly because of limitations at the quarterback position where Senior Captain Bryon Ellis, a three-year starter who accounted for more than 1,200 yards in total offense last season, is coming off of offseason shoulder surgery and Sophomore backup Martin Cross was recently bitten by a spider, forcing him to miss some time.
“That’s really limited us in what we can do, offensively,” he said. “It limits our passing game and our option game.”
Sharp said his team has remained positive through the roadblocks so far and opening the season against Danville, the number two team in 2A, in the Bob Allen Pigskin Classic ion August 30won’t make things any easier.
That game gives the Lakers six away games against four home games, meaning the Lakers must produce on the road in order to have a successful season.
Sharp said his team’s experience of the season’s first game should give them an edge later in the schedule.
“I just felt like the publicity of going to a bowl like this was worth it for our kids,” he said.
He said he would take eight seniors to the classic’s banquet where news media from the Lexington area would be along with numerous college coaches.
“Three years ago when I took the job, we sailed through the season 8-0, and hadn’t played anyone until we played Southwestern and everything was at a faster pace and we went on to lose the next three” he said.
“I made sure that didn’t happen again scheduling-wise.”
Sharp said this year’s team was a little quicker and that the offense had changed, somewhat.
“We’re going back and running some Wing-T offense,” he said. “Then we take off of that with our shotgun package and the Wishbone triple option.”
Being a defensive coordinator for 20 years, Sharp said these offenses seemed toughest to stop.
Sharp said rather than place the leadership on a few players, he is looking at the entire 16-man senior class for guidance.
“I really feel in my heart that they want to compete and want to win,” he said.
Senior Landon Meece was moved from receiver to halfback last year and should see the balls in his hands a lot this season
The Lakers also return senior wideouts Quinton Warriner and Cody Stephens that Sharp will be looking at to make big plays this season.
The captain for this year’s Laker football team are Bryon Ellis and senior fullback and linebacker Chandler McGowan.
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