LAKE VIEW, S.C. – As Coach Daryl King put it, the Lake View football team has many players coming back from last year’s playoff team.
The Wild Gators just don’t have many starters returning.
“We have some guys that came in and played some backup roles for us,” King said. “But in terms of starters, we’ve got two back on offense and zero on defense.
“So it’s a learning process right now trying to figure everything out.”
Patience will be one of the keys moving forward with such a young group, King said, but at the same time the new players also have to have a sense of urgency.
“You have to make them understand that you don’t care how young they are, they’ve got to pick it up,” he said. “We realize it’s going to take reps in practice and scrimmages and jamborees to get prepared. Even those first three or four ballgames, you’re not going to be what you want to be.
“But around here we try to get better each and every day.”
Senior center Noah Sweat is the lone returnee on the offensive line while junior Adarrian Dawkins once again will line up at quarterback.
Dawkins ran for a little more than 1,000 yards and 11 scores, but he’s likely to split some time with sophomore Derrick Bethea.
“There’s no real set starters – it’s open competition, which is how we like it,” King said.
Julius Corbett, Bryson Grimsley, Adrian Wheeler and Malik McDuffie are likely to see time along the line among others as Lake View looks to get its ground game going again.
Even so, the Gators do return some experience at wide receiver in JaMontrell Waters, Michael McInnis and Jiqyle Reaves.
“These are kids that did see some reps last year and have some experience playing last year,” King said. “We’re just looking for them to step up and take that role on.”
In the backfield, leading rusher Benji Kelley (1,156 yards, 10 TDs) is gone. Junior Da’Correus Ford, McInnis, Dawkins and freshman Marvin Gordon are all going to carry the ball at times, King said.
“We’re just trying to make sure we get the right players in the right spots,” he said.
The entire Lake View defense will be new this season, and King is looking at some of the underclassmen to fill some key spots.
“Sevon Nichols is only in the ninth grade,” King said of his young defensive lineman. “Then there’s kids like Bobby Rivers, Larry Inman and Devin Atkinson that some of them did have some experience last year but didn’t necessarily start any ballgames. That’s a little different on them right now, but they’re working to try to get better.”
Marquise Johnson, Corbett, Arkadius Benjamin and Raekwon McNeil are among the possibilities to fill the voids at linebacker.
Dawkins and Dylan Bullock will roam the secondary as safeties with Yaysher Grice and Ford at cornerback.
“We’ve got a lot of different kids that we’re mixing and matching and just trying to find the right combination,” King said.
Dawkins serves triple-duty as the team’s punter. Junior Raejon Rogers will kick off and handle extra points.
Ford and Dawkins probably will handle a lot of the return duties, but that’s still up in the air at the moment as well, King said.