In Aug. 26 Issue By Derek Aaron Times Journal Sports Editor
Laker head football coach Bill Sharp is entering his sixth season at the helm of the program and with a plethora of highly talented skill players returning and an 11-man senior class leading the way, the Lakers are looking to make some noise in district play and possibly host a 2010 playoff game.
"We're trying to be a little more multiple this year than in past years as far as formation and our offensive scheme," Sharp said. "We feel like we've got several kids who can make plays and we're just trying to find a way to get the ball in their hands."
He said, philosophy-wise, the Lakers are still going to be a run-oriented team but that there would be more passing integrated into the system this year with senior quarterback Martin Cross and sophomore quarterback Barton Mann leading the way.
"We've got two good kids at quarterback," Sharp said. "Both are very capable, they both played a lot of ball through fall camp and both got a lot of reps. Each one has their own set of strengths and each has their own set of weaknesses but we feel like we could win with either … both have shown that they can make plays."
Cross and fellow senior teammate Taylor Hutchison, a tall, wiry wideout, were voted on by the team as this season's team captains and both have take on the leadership roll well, Sharp said.
"Taylor, being a senior, we feel like he is going to be a playmaker for us this year," he said. "We're always trying to find ways to get him the ball in the passing game and maybe even some in different avenues."
Sharp also complimented senior tailback Jeron Hammond, who has been a dependable, gritty back during his first three years on the high school squad.
"We definitely have to get him the ball," Sharp said. "As an older kid, he's got talent."
Senior Kerry Kingry, a first year player, also figures to be in the mix on the offensive side of the ball as well as does sophomore fullback Lucas Whittle.
"With our younger guys we've still got Nick Britt, Darrell Nealy and (freshman) Evan Fletcher is going to come on and play some," Sharp said. Exact playing time amounts are still up in the air, though, as the offensive kinks are ironed out before the Lakers hit the Finley Field for the first time on Friday, Aug. 27 at 7 p.m. against the Jay Cobb-coached Campbellsville Eagles.
Sharp said the offensive line, anchored by senior center Ronnie Lawter, is improving every day and honing their skills as the season nears. Freshman Matt Adams will also be starting on the offensive line and Sharp raved about how fast the young lineman was transitioning from middle school ball.
"I think we'll be fine but we don't have a lot of quality depth, that is something I'm concerned about," he said. "We're trying to get six or seven (offensive linemen) ready for Friday nights."
Defensively, Sharp said his team lacked in size but had the quickness to hopefully make up for it.
"We're pretty decent when we're running to the football, we're really trying to get off the ball at the line of scrimmage and we're really hustling," he said. He did say that his guys sometimes tend to stand and watch the play unfold rather than going and making a play, something he also hopes to have corrected by the first game.
"We've got to be better than we were last year," he said. His plans now are to rotate as many players as he can on offense and defense to try and keep legs fresh as depth is a concern.
Sharp said he hadn't really had anyone step up and be a vocal leader yet on the defensive side of the football, but he's okay with that.
"We don't have to have that one vocal leader if we can become a team of leaders and that is what we're trying to do," he said. "We want everyone to be on the same page; no bust in alignment or assignment and communicate with one another."
Donnie Morrison returns to the Laker football coaching staff this season as coaches Brad Crowe and Jason Foley are no longer with the team, Sharp said. Morrison will concentrate on the offensive side of the ball and joins Ryan Richardson, Vince Stephens, Charlie Anderson and Anthony Darnell as assistant coaches of this season's Laker team.
The Lakers are coming off of a 5-6 record a season ago and lost in the first round of the 4A KHSAA state high school playoffs to the Lone Oak Purple Flash.
The Times Journal is a weekly newspaper issued on Thursdays. It was first published on October 13, 1949, by Andrew J. and Terry Norfleet.
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Russell County News is a weekly newspaper issued on Saturdays, and is mailed free to every address in Russell County, Ky. It was first published on February 1, 1913.
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