One of the most anticipated events of the fall sports schedule is now upon us. The Louisa Lions will kick off their 2018 football season on Friday, Aug. 24 with a road game.
Facing Courtland High School in the annual Big Cat Classic, new Louisa head coach Will Patrick is ready to get the season started.
The Lions dominated last year’s season opener against the Cougars, kicking off their 14-1 season with a 41-7 victory in The Jungle. Louisa hosted Courtland later in the season for the first round of playoffs and again emerged victorious, this time by a margin of 35-13.
One of the biggest advantages Courtland has, according to Patrick, is a large number of returning players in their offensive backfield.
“These are kids who can really play football, who are big, strong and fast,” he said.
Courtland’s coach JC Hall is excited to have so many players returning to his offensive line-up, and is ready to see what some of the new players can do as well.
“We’ve got some new corners up front that add a new dimension to our passing game,” he said.
In order to counter that offensive strength, Patrick’s key defensive strategy lies in something the Lions did very successfully last season — taking the running game away.
“That’s always a plan, no matter who we’re playing,” Patrick said. “We have to play sound football and we have to wrap up and tackle.”
Major players in the defensive strategy are returning linebackers Austin Sims and Penn State commit Brandon Smith.
Louisa’s offense will be led by a new face at quarterback. Robert Allinder transferred to Louisa from Florida late last season, but he’s quickly proved himself.
“He had a really good summer and has really stepped up for us,” Patrick said.
The biggest potential struggle for Louisa is that the majority of its starting lineup are fresh faces. Of the 22 players on last year’s starting lineup, 18 graduated in May.
Even though they don’t have many returnign starters, Hall isn’t taking anything for granted with Louisa.
“They only have a few returning, but the one’s that are really stand out,” he said, citing Smith as a particular threat to watch out for on Louisa’s defense.
As for Louisa’s offense, Hall noted that they can be “explosive” if not checked properly.
“They can spread out on one play and then come back and get close and run a single-wing on the next,” he said. “It’s hard to predict.”
With a large number of new players in the starting lineup for the Lions, Patrick hopes the team gives it their all.
“We’re young and green and have a lot to prove,” he said. “I hope the boys come out and just leave it all on the field.”
Whatever the outcome, Hall predicted that it should be an interesting game.
“After 16 years of coaching, I’ve learned to expect the unexpected in the first game,” he said. “We’re trying to establish an identity, just like Louisa.”
Friday’s game kicks off at 7 p.m. at Courtland High School. Anyone who is uable to attend the game can listen to a live broadcast provided by Tommy Nelson, Byron Mehlhaff and Dicky Purcell through the Central Virginian’s Facebook page.