HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – It’s easy to understand why Lakeside’s veteran head coach Jared McBride is hoping there will be a 2020 high school football season.
The Rams edged out Camden Fairview and Texarkana for the 5A South title last season. It was their third league crown in six year, and was Lakeside’s fifth straight playoff appearance.
It won’t be easy repeating in 5A South, but the Rams are considered favorites by many with nine offensive, and seven defensive starters returning.
“We do have high expectations,” said McBride. “We only graduated eight seniors, and have a lot of kids back who played a lot of good football. Our conference is tough. Everybody is returning a lot of good players.”
Success has Lakeside numbers growing
Lakeside’s success has resulted in climbing numbers. McBride said his team is averaging around 72 players at each practice.
“Everybody is excited about the chance of doing something special,” he said. “I think we’ve got some talented kids who could end up playing college ball.”
Senior wide receiver Logan White (6-2, 195) is one of those youngster that McBride is talking about. White earned all-state recognition in 2019 after catching 44 passes for 612 yards and six touchdowns.
White enjoyed that success because of all-state quarterback Will Ross (6-1, 190). Ross completed 134 of 221 passes for 1,686 yards and 24 touchdowns. Running back Isaac Echols (5-7, 160) is a third college prospect.
“All three of those guys are very smart, which helps make them great leaders,” said McBride.
Playoff loss still stings Rams
Lakeside took a six-game winning streak into the postseason last year. The Rams lost their playoff opener to White Hall, 35-0. That margin surprised a lot of folks considering Lakeside’s earlier offensive performances.
“White Hall was a good football team,” said McBride. “We made a couple of early mistakes, and got down. Then we started pressing. You have to credit White Hall for having a good game plan, and executing so well.”
While the Rams’ offense should be explosive, McBride believes his team should also be better on defense.
“I think we’ll be better defensively,” he said. “We had a real good defense last year. We got a lot of turnovers that gave us extra opportunities and short fields. A lot of those kids are back, and we expect the same type of performances.”
Rams should be better on defense
White will be a leader in the secondary at safety. Junior Steven Cummins (6-0, 230) is expected to contribute at end and linebacker. Junior Jordan Mills is another who can come up big at both end and linebacker.
Another defensive force is senior Marcos Villareal (6-1, 250), one of the team’s strongest players. Junior Whit Overton (6-0, 275) gives the Rams more size up front. Two-way starter Will Perrigo (5-11, 200) had some big games on defense. He blocked an extra point that proved decisive against Texarkana last season.
McBride is just hoping the current coronavirus pandemic doesn’t spoil the Rams’ promising campaign.
“One thing I’ve learned is to take every day and do what you can in that day,” said McBride. “We’re going to be prepared to play, and we’ll prepare our kids. If we have to adjust, we’ll adjust. I sure hope we get to play.”
Lakeside needs to be ready because four of its first five games will be on the road. The Rams’ first conference game is at Camden.
2020 Lakeside Schedule
Aug. 28 Lake Hamilton
Sept. 4 at Sheridan
Sept. 11 at Watson Chapel
Sept. 18 at Malvern
Sept. 25 x-at Camden Fairview
Oct. 2 x-Magnolia
Oct. 9 x-Texarkana
Oct. 16 x-at Hope
Oct. 23 x-De Queen
Nov. 6 x-Hot Springs
x-Denotes 5A South Games