It all starts with defense for Lakeside.
Lakeside High School head coach Randy Hill talks to his team during practice. Hill says for at least the first few games he expects the veteran members of the defense will carry the younger offense.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
The Panthers bring back the most experienced defensive unit in the county this year, and coach Randy Hill figures that at least for the first few games the defense will carry the offense.
"We have a lot of key players back," Hill said. "They should be a little ahead of the offense to start the season."
Lakeside had five senior starters, including quarterback Jimmy Johnson and running back Carl Burrow, and a young defense last year. Most expected the offense to carry the defense.
But the opposite happened.
The Panthers shut down Jeffrey Walker of Jefferson County, who had run for 500 yards in the two games before he played against the Lakeside defense.
"We were really surprised how fast the defense came around," Hill said. "But when they came around, they were really good."
The key to the defense is its intensity.
"We follow coach Hill's example," said safety Chris Drayton. "All of our coaches are intense. We take on that personality. Because of that, we have some mean guys out on the field."
Drayton quarterbacks the defense, leading the Panthers with four interceptions and more than 80 tackles.
Lakeside football players work on their blocking during practice. Safety Chris Drayton says the key to the Panthers' defense will be the intensity the players and coaches bring to practice and games.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
"He is as good as advertised," linebacker Paul Miller said of Drayton, who has scholarship offers from Louisville and Kentucky. "He makes plays, plain and simple."
If Drayton is the captain of the defense, Miller is his first mate.
Miller, who has drawn interest from the service academies, leads an active front eight. Miller led the team in sacks and loves contact.
Defensive tackle Jermel Bennett finished second on the team in sacks in 2004 as a sophomore and should benefit from a year of experience.
Kyle Hill, Travis Azar, Trey Dove and Jason McCall all solidify the secondary.
Although Hill loses a number of key offensive starters, he says he is confident that the offense will be effective.
"We have confidence in the guys we have in place," he said. "I think we will be fine."
Drayton and Azar have been competing in camp for the quarterback job. Each of them filled in during the final two games of the season in 2004 after Johnson suffered a concussion.
Coaches said that they wouldn't mind a rotation at quarterback but that Drayton would probably start the opener. Dove and McCall will be capable receivers for whoever wins the job.
Brian Gross Bias and Jermel Holmes will team with Kyle Hill - who led the team in receiving and rushing - in the backfield.
"We feel really strongly about the offense," said Drayton. "We hope everybody thinks the offense won't be good. We're ready to surprise teams."
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