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Lobos look to continue work at state 7-on-7

By Hayden Henry
June 28, 2017 at 10:17 p.m.

Longview quarterbacks Jordan Lawson, left, and A'Darius Carter warm up prior to a 7-on-7 game Monday at Lobo Stadium.

Jordan Lawson made the comment between games at Longview's area 7-on-7 league this past week, saying this summer has been one of the hardest he's been through as a Lobo.

That's not a bad thing for the Longview senior quarterback.

"A lot of people have been looking forward to our season and this summer, especially after the spring, has been one of the hardest that we've had," Lawson said. "That's a good thing. We've been working and working until we can't anymore."

Longview's summer continues Friday as action begins in the Division I state 7-on-7 tournament in College Station, the first trip to the annual tournament for the Lobos since 2013 and third in program history.

The Lobos are one of 64 teams spread across 16 pools heading to Veterans Park and Athletic Complex for the two-day event.

Longview, Lubbock Coronado, DeSoto and Pearland make up Pool I, deemed the "Pool of Death" by Dave Campbell's Texas Football high school insider Matt Stepp.

Longview will open with Pearland at 2 p.m. Friday and see Coronado at 4 p.m. and DeSoto at 6 p.m. The top two teams from each pool advance to the championship bracket Saturday, while the bottom two head to the consolation field.

"It's a learning experience and a chance to continue to work to get better," senior quarterback A'Darius Carter said. "It's going to be good competition. We've just got to go down there and compete.

"We've just got to keep working."

Both Lawson and Carter have seen time at quarterback throughout the summer, as they did during Longview's spring practice.

In the Tyler state qualifying tournament, Lawson spent the majority of the time at quarterback while Carter and sophomore quarterback Haynes King lined up a receiver.

"It's been fun and a different perspective other than just throwing it" Carter said. "I love to throw the football, trust me, but this has been fun. I feel like I've learned a lot this summer."

Longview broke the spring without a starting quarterback named, a decision that head coach John King said will come in August.

"I think they've all been great leaders," King said of the summer. "You tweak a few things in the game of 7-on-7 a little bit.

"I think all have done a great job of communicating and leading. We're throwing the ball a little better and we're getting a lot of work in. It's still undecided who is going to the guy but what we're doing now, they're here, they're working hard and they're having fun.

"AC wants to go play ball and he wants to win. That's been the attitude with all of them. They want to play, they want to contribute and they want to win. That's how they're going about it, no matter where they line up."

No matter who is throwing the ball, they all benefit from a host of contributors at receiver like Kamden Perry, Kendle Johnson and Jacob Johnson, along with tight end Jaylin Brown.

Many have seen the trip to state 7-on-7 as a shift from the Lobos' run-heavy approach.

"I think we have a chance to get some guys involved and I think, as a whole, our skill players top to bottom are as good as they've been in a long time," he said. "We've got a lot of guys that can make plays all over the field.

"That's going to change our way of doing things, maybe, with the inexperience we have on the offensive line, paired with more experience at the other spots."

Offensively, Lawson said they'll go at it together.

"I feel like no one has put themselves before the team," he said. "Everyone knows what they're good at, everyone knows that they're the man but when everyone is the man as a team, that's when you improve and it seems like everyone has been doing that."

While the offense has picked up since a defensive-heavy spring practice, the Lobo defense has held point.

Longview closed its qualifying tournament with five-straight shutout halves.

Again with a host of contributors, the Lobo defense will play a vital role in College Station.

"It's not too often you see shutouts in 7-on-7," King said. "They've played well and have made the right plays at the right time. They're going to have to continue to be the strong suit heading into August."

Lawson is appreciative of the defense while Carter said the rising unit is playing with a slight chip on their shoulder.

"They've kept us in almost every game," Lawson said. "Like in the semifinals in Tyler, we didn't score the first three drives and they came away with two picks. They've set it up. Without them, we wouldn't be where we are.

"They're the dogs of this team."

Added Carter: "The defense has been great. This past season was a down year in ways for the defense and they were young. They had a chip on their shoulder and we've seen that this spring and this summer. They've lived up to the challenge."

As August rapidly approaches, the Lobos look to spend the weekend competing and improving as two-a-days and a season-opening date with Lufkin approaches.

"I think us coming together as a team will be the biggest takeaway," Lawson said. "There's a brotherhood around here. Of course, the competition as far as football will help but it's a good opportunity for us to come together as a team, as a family."

MORE THAN PASSING AND CATCHING

While the Lobos' skill players have received the attention this summer through 7-on-7, King said the overall attendance this summer has been high.

The recruiting is picking up for a couple of Lobos as well.

Junior offensive lineman Marcus Williams quickly jumped to five Division I offers since the end of spring.

After hearing from Southern Miss and Texas State after attending a camp in which coaches from both schools were in attendance, Williams had a two-offer day, landing opportunities from Baylor and Houston. SMU then gave Williams his fifth offer thus far.

"He's picked up five offers this summer and hasn't started his first game," King said. "We've said all along that he's going to be a Division I recruit and with his size, speed and worth ethic, we weren't surprised at all."

Longview senior kicker and punter Chris Kessler landed his first offer from Army on Tuesday.

"There's a lot of players putting in work this summer," King said. "Guys like JC Blakemore, D'Marjai Dearion, Montavain Reed, who have seen the lights turn on, all of these guys are going to play huge roles.

"The 7-on-7 guys are getting the love right now, deservedly so and I'm proud of them but come August, it's back in the trenches."

(Follow Hayden Henry on Twitter: @hayden_h)

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