HOT SPRINGS, Ark. — Lakeside dominated traditional 4A power Nashville in a scrimmage earlier this month, and Ram supporters are having visions of a deep run into the 5A postseason.
The Rams will have a good idea if those expectations are realistic Friday night when they travel across Hot Springs to play 6A’s second-ranked Lake Hamilton.
“We did pretty good in that scrimmage with Nashville,” said Lakeside coach Jared McBride. “Now we’re playing for real, and every game is a different ball game for us. Lake Hamilton was a state finalist last season, and they’ve got a lot of kids back. I expect a good game. This is a rivalry that goes back a long ways.”
Rams hoping for deeper run in playoffs
Lakeside won its second straight 5A South crown in 2020, and fourth in the past seven years. That success has added up to only one playoff win, and it’s no exaggeration to say the Rams’ coaching staff is frustrated by that fact.
Graduation claimed all-state quarterback Will Ross and all-state running back Isaac Echols. Linebacker Will Perrigo and safety Logan White also completed their schoolboy careers.
McBride has 13 starters back from a 7-4 team that lost to Lake Hamilton in last season’s opener. That contest saw the Wolves score four early touchdowns en route to a 31-17 victory.
“We talked to our kids last week, and today (Monday) about how we shot ourselves in the foot in the first quarter last year,” said McBride. “We can’t afford to do that again.
“Lake Hamilton is a physical team; they’re big, strong and well coached. Most people we play are bigger than us. Our kids play hard and always give great effort. After that if we can just get them in the right spot, we’ll be OK.”
Mills, Russell shine in scrimmage
A big part of the Rams’ success against Nashville came from senior quarterback Jordan Mills (6-4, 210), and sophomore running back Braylen Russell (6-1, 210). Lakeside is deep at the skill positions. The Rams have the potential to light up the scoreboard in a hurry if an inexperienced line comes together.
Defensive end Steven Cummins (6-0, 230) earned all-state honors a year ago, and leads a unit that returns eight starters. However, Mills will probably see little action at linebacker with the move to quarterback. Last season he had 13 tackles for loss, including six sacks.
McBride doesn’t see a third straight title coming easy. Both Magnolia and Camden Fairview return a lot.
“Our first goal at Lakeside is always to compete for a conference championship,” he said. “But it’s time for us to go deeper in the playoffs.”
Hot Springs Lakeside Schedule
Aug. 27 at Lake Hamilton
Sept. 3 Sheridan
Sept. 10 Watson Chapel
Sept. 17 Malvern
Sept. 24 x-Camden Fairview
Oct. 1 x-at Magnolia
Oct. 8 x-at Texarkana
Oct. 15 x-Hope
Oct. 22 x-at De Queen
Nov. 5 x-at Hot Springs
x-Denotes 5A South games.