Posted: Monday, August 13th 2012 at 10:18am
Football 2012: Lions set for biggest pride yet
By Morgan Lee Editor
GAINESVILLE -- There have been times through the years when Lakeview Academy football coach Matthew Gruhn worried about rounding up 17 healthy players.
Things are changing for Gruhn and his Lions these days.
Heading into the 2012 season, Lakeview boasts 17 seniors and a roster of 39 players -- both records for the Lions -- heading into their fourth season of varsity play.
Combine those numbers with the 4-4 campaigns that Lakeview has put up over each of the past two years and it’s easy to see why expectations are beginning to sprout for the Lions.
“4-4 is not outstanding by any means, but people recognize that we’re improving every year,” Gruhn said. “When we started out it was just about survival, now we’re above that.”
In fact, the Lions hope that they are close to turning the proverbial corner and are headed toward a full roster each season -- one that will be capable of playing a full region schedule.
“Every year is a new year and at a small school numbers ebb and flow, but if we can have 30-35 guys every year I feel good about that,” said Gruhn. “We want to go into region play and stay in it -- not jump in and out -- so I want to make sure we can sustain this, but I feel good about where we are, and I think we’ll be very competitive.”
Indeed the Lions return the bulk of last year’s .500 squad -- though they will have to work to replace running back/linebacker Matt Askounis.
“That’s like losing four people because of all he did for us,” Gruhn said of Askounis. “But we have a great group back.”
That includes senior quarterback Ted Reynolds, who is well-versed in the Lions’ triple option attack and is a four-year starter. Running back Ted Reynolds is also a four-year starter, as is running back/linebacker Carter Ross and linemen Alex Oliver and Eric Baldwin.
“Their leadership and experience will be huge for us,” Gruhn said. “I feel like we’re pretty set at the skill positions on both sides of the ball. And we’ve got a good amount of linemen back too. If those guys play well, we could have a pretty good season.”
A number of underclassmen are also expected to play key roles this season, including junior running back/safety Jackson Strickland and junior linemen Chase Unger and J.T. McClung.
“It’s been so big for us to even be able to go 11-on-11 in practice,” Gruhn said.
The Lions will take on a non-region schedule that includes traditional powerhouse Athens Academy (Sept. 28, home).
“We’re looking forward to seeing just how good we are with that game,” Gruhn said of playing the Spartans.
If things continue on the path they’re trekking, that could soon be a yearly battle.
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, 5th season (as a varsity program), 10-23
2011 RECORD/ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 4-4
KEY LOSSES: RB/LB Matt Askounis
KEY OFFENSIVE PLAYERS: Sr. QB Ted Reynolds, Sr. FB Trevor Pryce, Sr. OL Alex Oliver, Sr. RB Carter Ross, Sr. OL Eric Baldwin, Jr. RB Jackson Strickland.
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. LB Trevor Pryce, Sr. DL Alex Oliver, Sr. DL Eric Baldwin, Sr. LB Carter Ross, Jr. DL Chase Unger, Jr. DL JT McClung
SPECIAL TEAMS: Sr. P Joel Larson, Jr. PK Chance Calderhead
STRENGTH: Leadership and experience. The Lions have 17 seniors, a huge boost for a program that has struggled with numbers.
QUESTION: Line of scrimmage. If Lakeview can compete in the trenches it is in for a strong season, as the Lions believe they have plenty of talent at the skill positions.
KEY GAMES: The Lions open with Fellowship Christian (Aug. 31, home) -- a team that denied the Lions their first ever winning season courtesy a 6-0 outcome. Lakeview will play host to traditional power Athens Academy (Sept. 28). The next week Lakeview travels to Atlanta to take on Cross Keys.
TRENDING: After posting back-to-back .500 seasons, things are looking up for a Lions program that is hoping to stabilize and think of the day it can begin playing a true region schedule. The numbers are there for Lakeview for the first time and expectations are on the rise.
Aug. 31 vs. Fellowship Christian
Sept. 7 at Hebron Christian Academy
Sept. 21 at Pinecrest Academy
Sept. 28 vs. Athens Academy
Oct. 12 at Cross Keys (North Dekalb Stadium)
Oct. 19 at St. Francis
Oct. 26 vs. North Cobb Christian
Nov. 2 vs. Towns County
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