In Aug. 27 Issue
By Derek Aaron, TJ Sports Editor
A big question mark lingers over the Laker football program this fall. How will the team fair after losing 15 seniors off of last season's 4-7 playoff team? And who will step into those roles this year?
“Last year we didn't win a lot of ballgames but we were competitive with a lot of good people,” said Laker Head Coach Bill Sharp. “We played a tough schedule and got after people.”
This season's Lakers are filled with youth and inexperience, including several players that have never played the game before now as well as several impact freshmen.
“We do have quickness,” Sharp added. “We've got some speed.”
He said that many years, teams lack the necessary speed to compete at a high level but that has changed this time around.
“A lot of it depends on how far we've come up front,” he said of his offensive line, which has several key members back this season, led by seniors Codey Bell, Daniel Black, Kriz Pickett and Logan Clark.
Sharp said fans would roughly continue to see the Wing-T offense, some shotgun packages and the Wishbone triple option.
“It'll change in that we'll not be able to throw the ball for 1,700 yards like we did last year,” he said. “Last year, third and long didn't scare us because we felt like we could net it.”
For the first time in four seasons, the Lakers will have a different quarterback on opening night as Junior Martin Cross is taking over for the departed Bryon Ellis.
Sharp said his team would focus more on ball control as the season unfolds.
If the young Lakers can take care of business in the second district of region one in Class 4A , they again have a shot of hosting a pivotal first round playoff game.
But Sharp said the post-season chances depend a lot on what the other district teams, Logan County, Warren East, Allen County-Scottsville and Franklin Simpson accomplish.
“I'm encouraged,” he said of his team's potential. “We just have to continue to get a little better every week. I think we can be okay.”
The Lakers have five away games and five home games this season, meaning the Lakers must produce on the road and at Laker Stadium to have a successful season.
The Lakers return junior halfback Jeron Hammond and offensive threats Austin Hill, Zac Scott and Taylor Hutchison to go along with Cross. Freshman backup Barton Mann could also see some time at quarterback. Senior David Hamilton, a first year player, also looks to get into the mix for the Lakers.
Seniors Jordan Best and Jackson Evans, who are in their first year for the Lakers, brings some of that speed and quickness to the table that Sharp was talking about.