Posted: Thursday, August 15th 2013 at 10:18am
Football 2013: Lakeview hoping to maintain momentum
By Morgan Lee Editor
LAKEVIEW ACADEMY: NEED TO KNOW
TEAM COLORS: Navy and Silver
CURRENT REGION: 8-A (playing a non-region schedule)
HEAD COACH/RECORD AT SCHOOL: Matthew Gruhn, sixth season (as a varsity program), 16-25
2012 RECORD/ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 6-2, first ever winning season
KEY LOSSES: QB Ted Reynolds, FB/LB Trevor Pryce, OL/DL Alex Oliver, OL/DL Eric Baldwin, LB Carter Ross, P Joel Larson
OFFENSIVE STYLE: Triple option -- the Lions will mix in some shotgun but are primarily a running team. Lakeview will have to do some learning on the job, with just three starters returning at their positions from a year ago.
KEY OFFENSIVE PLAYERS: Sr. QB Jackson Strickland, Sr. FB Drake Hollander, Sr. TE Patrick Avery, Sr. OL JT McClung, Sr. OL Paul Avery.
DEFENSIVE STYLE: 4-4/4-3 -- Lakeview will try to gets its playmakers near the line of scrimmage and slow the run first.
KEY DEFENSIVE PLAYERS: Sr. DL Chase Unger, Sr. DL JT McClung, Sr. DL David Fadool, Jr. LB Chris Ball, Sr. DB Jackson Strickland
SPECIAL TEAMS: Positions still to be determined as of publication time
STRENGTH: Line of scrimmage/chemistry -- The Lions, for perhaps the first time, know they can rely on an experienced starting group in the trenches. The team also saw what it took to win last season and is emulating last year's squad in preparation and chemistry.
QUESTION: Depth/Skill positions -- After graduating a huge senior class, the Lions must work hard to replace the players lost, with a number of starters playing both sides of the ball. Lakeview also has plenty of questions in the offensive backfield. Strickland is a strong player but playing a new position after starring at running back last season.
KEY GAMES: The opener against Fellowship Christian will be key for a relatively young Lakeview squad. The Lions also added a ninth game to the schedule and will travel to face state power Wesleyan (Oct. 4). Of Lakeview's nine opponents, five will be under new head coaches this season.
TRENDING: Things took off for the Lions last season, posting their best-ever record and dominating a number of opponents. Lakeview is excited to build on that momentum but knows it won't be easy with nine seniors and 27 players on the roster in 2013.
Aug. 30 at Fellowship Christian
Sept. 6 vs. Hebron Christian Academy
Sept. 20 vs. Pinecrest Academy
Sept. 27 at Athens Academy
Oct. 4 at Wesleyan
Oct. 11 vs. Cross Keys
Oct. 18 vs. St. Francis
Oct. 25 at North Cobb Christian
Nov. 1 at Towns County
GAINESVILLE -- After years of building and striving, the 2012 season provided a breakthrough moment for Lakeview Academy football.
The 2013 Lions are focused squarely on not letting that momentum slip away. And with eight key seniors returning from last season's squad, Lakeview feels it knows what it takes to notch another stellar campaign -- as it eyes a move to region play in the near future.
"We hope to move to region football next year," said Gruhn, whose team went 6-2 last year and has added a ninth game to the schedule in 2013.
If this year's team can replicate 2012's success, it could be an easy transition.
"Last year's team left a good legacy and established a neat brotherhood. They were real close, and that wore off on group that's coming up," Lions coach Matthew Gruhn said. "The seniors we have now want to keep that chemistry; it's one of our biggest strengths. We don't have big numbers, but we play hard for each other."
"Every year we make strides in our physicality and what it takes to play the game," Gruhn said. "Sometimes we want it to grow faster than it is, but hopefully it will keep improving."
Anchored by seniors J.T. McClung (captain), Paul Avery, Chase Unger and David Fadool, along with tight end Patrick Avery, Lakeview's offensive line should aid an offense that will be looking for a spark from several new faces in the backfield.
Quarterback Jackson Strickland will guide the Lions' triple option attack after starring as a running back in 2012. Meanwhile, senior Drake Hollander -- who was a back-up fullback last season -- will take over as the team's top option at running back.
"We will rely heavily on those two guys and Patrick Avery at tight end," Gruhn said.
On defense, Lakeview will look for leadership from many of the same faces, including Strickland in the backfield and Hollander at linebacker. Chris Ball and Patrick Avery will also feature at linebacker, while the offensive line will provide plenty of reps on the defensive front.
"Last year we were able to two-platoon; this year we've got a lot of two-way guys," Gruhn said.
Those players will be challenged by a schedule that features plenty of shake-ups -- as five of the Lions opponents will be under new head coaches. There is also the addition of Wesleyan, which won the 2008 Class A GHSA title but finished 4-7 last season -- its first in Class AA.
"They called and had had someone cancel, so we picked them up," Gruhn said. "We feel like we need to find out where we are, and that will be a good benchmark. I just hope we like what we find out when we play those guys."
So far, Gruhn likes what he has seen in the build-up to 2013.
"I've seen a pretty good work ethic and desire to continue what was built," Gruhn said.
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