Longview coach looks to build on productive summer
Aug. 12, 2017 at 10:37 p.m.
It's been a long but productive offseason for the Longview Lobos, one that comes to an end Monday with the start of preseason practice.
But with what Lobo head coach John King called a really good summer, Monday's session kicks off a few weeks of work, full of questions to be answered, for Longview.
"I thought we had a really good summer, a productive one, that followed a decent spring," King said. "We had at least 175 a day throughout the summer. We had a few thin weeks, but it was solid throughout."
Longview's defense grabbed the attention through the spring and it paired with the Lobo offense in a return trip to the state 7-on-7 tournament. It's been one of growing for a youthful Mean Green unit from a year ago.
"We knew after last season that we had to play better, that was no secret to anyone," King said. "That was not a typical showing of our defense.
"We had a lot returning on that side of the ball heading into the spring and a lot that knew they had to improve."
Longview returns nine defensive linemen that saw varsity action, including several starters, including D'Marjai Dearion and JC Blakemore.
"We hope that our defense continues to show that they're the strong part of this football team right now," King said. "With that experience, they should be.
"I feel really good about the back end of it. There's some returning players there, guys that showed they're ready for the prime time through the spring and summer."
With experience up front and in the secondary, including three-year starters Kyle Johnson and Roshodrick Harmon along with junior Jephaniah Lister, the next few weeks will prove pivotal at linebacker.
"We've got some guys there that had limited time there last season but I think we've got some guys with a lot of character and want-to. We've got to play good there with today's offensive game.
"We've got some depth there and some guys that showed some real promise in the spring."
Senior Jalen Carr will fit into the mix in the secondary after a strong spring and ensuing summer.
"A guy like Kyle, you take things for granted with him but he's a smart, edgy player," King said. "Roshodrick is a long, tall corner that can run well and Lister is Lister, who is maybe our best all-around football player as a whole.
"Jalen is doing some things that we always thought he could do, thing just clicked with him. He's got some fight, he's bought in and is just a great teammate and leader."
Switching to the offensive side of the ball, the Lobos have two huge questions to answer on an offensive line that returns one full-time starter as well as at quarterback, a position that will have a new face for the third-straight year.
Gavin Roberts started 10-of-11 games a year ago up front and is joined by rising junior Marcus Williams, who picked up five Division I offers over the course of the summer, including Baylor and Houston.
Both Williams, along with Marcus Harry, saw spot time a year ago as sophomores and both will factor in with several others over the course of the next few weeks heading into the season opener against Lufkin.
"Offensive line, right now we're about a C," King said. "There's a lot of unknowns and that is a result of a lack of consistency throughout the spring. People were out, people were banged up, this and that. You've got to have five guys out there consistently to develop an identity and we didn't have that this spring.
"We saw some promise at time and we were able to able to develop some depth. It did help us in that aspect."
Tight end Jaylin Brown returns to help that area, as well as catching the football.
King feels confident about the group the Lobo offense has at receiver, including Kamden Perry, Jacob Johnson and Kendle Johnson.
"There's some good players and guys that can play both inside and out," King said. "However the quarterback situation shakes out, one of those guys will be out there as well."
That leads to who will be guiding the Lobo offense to start the fall. Seniors A'Darius Carter and Jordan Lawson, along with junior Juvarrs Lampkin and sophomore Haynes King all saw time at quarterback in the spring and in 7-on-7. When the weren't throwing the ball, they were catching it.
"We're going to split reps and it was clear that it was going to be decided in August," King said. "Every quarterback that we had at the end of year evaluation, all said that they would be would play another position if they were not the guy.
"We're going to give everyone a fair shot to earn it, to win it."
King said that approach bodes well for the team as a whole.
"We want to give our football team the best chance to win and I think the attitude coming from those four guys tells you that our football team wants to win and they're unselfish," King said. "I think winning supersedes any kind of personal glory or agenda that anyone has got.
"It is a great thing to hear as a coach. It's going to be a difficult decision when that decision is made."
Longview will hit the field at 4:45 p.m. and end close to 7 p.m. Friday marks the first day in full pads.
"Monday is Monday and all the first-day things come with that," King said. "We'll teach as much as we can in shorts but the real football starts on Friday."
(For more on the Lobos as preseason practice starts, see the Lobo Insider blog on ETVarsity.com; Follow Hayden Henry on Twitter: @hayden_h)