Lee Academy’s junior high football teams have won the district championship the past two years.
The sophomore and junior Colts were all part of the team that won the title in junior high two years ago. Now, they are back together in high school and will be expected to play significant roles in the upcoming season as there are only two players in the senior class.
Utility player Vance Johnson and offensive lineman Gage Russell are the two seniors and coach Rick Johnston said he will be counting on them heavily for leadership.
With the strong sophomore and junior classes, the competition is wide open and no starting positions have been solidified. The Colts will be in the weight room for much of the summer and two-a-days begins July 26. They will participate in a jamboree August 13.
The high school team is coming off of an opening round playoff loss in 2020, but expectations are higher in 2021.
“Both sophomore and junior classes are good classes,” Johnston said. “Senior class only has five boys only two of which play football so we’ll be going into the year with just two seniors.
“I think that those (sophomore and junior) classes are extremely competitive. They challenge each other so that can only make us better.
“I hope each and every one of them can contribute in some kind of way. That’s our goal anyway. With only having two seniors, they’re going to have to play. Hopefully, they’ll grow up quickly.”
The Colts will have around 30 players, which is close to the roster number of 2020. They had a much smaller roster Johnston’s first three years as head coach. He is glad the Colts have a larger roster once again.
“More bodies, more competition is a great thing,” Johnston said. “Competition breeds a winning edge so to speak.”
Juniors Aidan Byrd, Bryan Ray, and Ryan Mooney and sophomore William Walker will be competing for the starting quarterback position, but all four will see action on the field.
“All four of those are very skilled, so they’ll be on the field somewhere,” Johnston said.
“We have not solidified anything as of right now. Everything is wide open. Quarterback competition is going to be a pretty intense one. We’ve got four guys we’re going to give some reps to and we’ll see who comes out of it.”
Johnston hopes the Colts will be balanced in 2021.
“I love defense,” he said. “We’re going to play hard defense. Offensively, we should have the skill players to spread it out, do whatever we want to do.”
Chad Foster is the offensive coordinator, assistant coach Will Florence will focus on strength and condition and Bobby Eavenson is the head of football operations.
“The best we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Johnston said.
“I’m as fired up as I’ve been in a long time. I’m looking forward to the upcoming year.”
Johnston praised the work Foster and Florence have done to get the athletes in shape.
“We’re going to try to outwork the next person,” Johnston said. “So if you’re not in here working, you’re falling behind. We’ve had excellent participation. I was out last week, but Coach Foster and Coach Florence had it going, so that’s a good thing.”
Unlike one year ago, the COVID pandemic has not been an obstacle when it comes to practices.
“I think everything’s pretty much back to normal,” Johnston said. “It looks like everything’s kind of opening up. The pro models and even the college baseball models, they’re at capacity. Most of them are, so I think we are.”
The team will take proper precautions if an athlete tests positive for COVID.
“I still think we’re in the same protocol that we were during school,” Johnston said.
North Delta School, Kirk, Marshall and Oak Hill academies will be in Lee’s division in 2021. Lee’s only division opponents the past two years were North Delta and Kirk Academy.
“I like the bigger division,” said Johnston, adding he likes having more games that matter when it comes to division standings.
“We’ve played all of them in the past except for Oak Hill. They’re in West Point the other side of the state so that’s quite a drive. They will be in our conference for the next two years at least.