Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Sports

August 19, 2013

PREP FOOTBALL PREVIEW: A few question marks

Lakeland needs untested players to step up

LaGRANGE — At first glance, there would appear to be a lot of returning experience for the Lakeland High School football team in 2013.

A look at the Lakers’ roster reveals 21 seniors.

But when you dig a little deeper, you see that there aren’t too many returning starters: Just four on offense and five on defense.

Ninth-year Lakeland head coach Keith Thompson is hoping strong senior leadership develops among those returning starters.

There’s a pretty good head start on that as senior quarterback William Kelly returns to anchor the Lakers’ multiple Wing-T offense.

Kelly, an all-NECC selection in 2012, threw for 919 yards in 2012, completing 55-of-101 passes with 12 TDs and just one interception.

Experience does return in the backfield, with senior Taylor Raatz (42 carries for 386 yards in 2012). The Lakers lost all-NECC running back Cody Troyer to graduation. Troyer amassed 800 yards on  the ground for Lakeland in 2012.

For Thompson, the key to success for Lakeland in 2013 is going to be seeing whether younger players develop as quickly as needed.

“We’ve got some skill people who will make things entertaining on Friday nights,” Thompson said.

The Lakers need to find some new targets for Kelly, as just four catches for 81 yards return from 2012. Lakeland lost all-NECC receiver T.J. Thompson. Raatz had three of those four catches for 63 yards.

Senior Quinten Bender (16 carries for 78 yards) will be Raatz’s backup.

Senior Evan Garretson (6-0, 240) also returns to anchor the Lakeland line, along with fellow senior Chris Lehman (5-9, 210).

Defensively, the Lakers run a 3-5. Garretson (12 tackles in 2012) and fellow senior Wyatt Petty (6-1, 215) are the ends.

The linebacking corps is anchored by senior Kyle Casper (6-1, 185, 10 tackles in 2012) and Morgan Moore (5-10, 175). Nick Attkinson (5-9, 155, 31 tackles) is also in the mix

Raatz pulls double duty with a spot in the secondary, and will also return kicks. He had 10 returns for 221 yards and a TD last season.

The Lakers have an excellent kicker in Marco Olivares, who was 37-for-44 on PATs last season and averaged 44.5 yards per kickoff.   

With a sectional reconfiguration — and the IHSAA’s new legacy program, which bumps some schools up a class, the Lakers now find themselves in a sectional with perennial Class 2A powerhouse Fort Wayne Bishop Luers.

Thompson shrugged off the reconfiguration. “You’ve got to beat somebody good to win a sectional,” Thompson said.

Lakeland opens the season this Friday night on the road at Prairie Heights.

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