The numbers don’t look good at Lee Academy. But they are up from a year ago.
“We have 26 kids out this year,” said Colts Athletic Director and Head Football Coach Rick Johnston.
“That is five more than we had a year ago. So that’s good.”
The Colts finished 4-6 last season, including a playoff loss to Adams County Christian School, 35-8.
“Our goal this year is to make the playoffs and to go deeper into the playoffs,” Johnston said.
Of the 26 roster players, many have previous playing experience which gives the coaching staff the ability to know which players to rely upon heading into the season.
Junior Brett Wilson will start at quarterback for the Colts. He started last season as a wideout, but saw a great deal of action at quarterback in relief of starter Jacob Branch.
“He has a good, fast release and gets the ball to the receiver very well,” Johnston says.
He added that offensive coordinator Chad Foster is working on a few angles to add to the offense.
“We’ve got the talent to operate a spread offense this season,” Foster believes.
“People like Evan Watts and Phillip Brownlee will have to be respected by the opponents’ defensive backs this year.”
Also, Foster tags senior wide receiver Andrew Morson as his “game changer” and believes he has the ability to make things happen.
Johnston is “banking” the Colts’ running game to do some damage this season.
“Guys like Watts and Gage Murphy are veterans who will have to come through,” he said. “They did last season time after time.”
More team speed is another plus for the Colts this year.
“Our guys have worked hard this summer on adding speed,” Foster said.
“We will be a faster ball club and our running backs will hit the holes quicker.”
Sophomore running back Nickos Nolan will add his speed to the backfield and junior Gage Murphy and senior Hayes Clegg will add to the mix along with junior Seth Campbell.
“Nolan works very hard,” Johnston and Foster are quick to say.
Defensively, the Colts will be forced to shift and move around a lot as they only have two players over 200 pounds.
“We just don’t have the size we’ve had in the past,” Johnston laments.
“Therefore, we’re going to have to try and keep the defenses guessing as to what we are going to do.”
Shon Valvano returns in his role as the offensive and defensive line coach this season.
“Shon will be challenged this season but we are confident he will do another outstanding job this season,” Johnston said.
Valvano will rely on veterans Crawford Allen and Owen Williamson, both seniors, as well as sophomores Andrew Williamson and Jackson Spinks. Other defensive players he will draw from include senior Rutledge Agostin elli, Shane Griffin, Jackson Young and Cam Brewer.
“Spinks plays hard every play,” Johnston says. “He is the type of player that makes things happen.”
The 2018 Lee schedule is the same as last season with the venues reversed. The first three games are especially interesting.
The Colts open on the road against Division 1-A Marshall Academy returning home to play 1-AAA Magnolia Heights and 1-AAA arch rival North Delta.
“That will be a good test for us,” Johnston said.
The rest of the schedule finds the Colts at Lee (Arkansas), at Bayou Academy, home against Washington School, on the road against Macon Road Baptist School, back home for Homecoming against Kirk Academy on Oct. 12 before ending the regular season at Indianola Academy on Oct. 19.