Lions take changes in stride

The Louisa Lions football team lost a large senior class after the 2018 season, but the Lions are again a senior-heavy team this year, with 23 of the 46 players on the roster entering their final season of Louisa football.

“This group has done a great job of stepping up,” Lions’ head coach Will Patrick said. “They’ve been playing with me for years, so they know what my standards are.”

Key among the returning seniors is Jarett Hunter, who has more than made a name for himself as a running back over the past two seasons. He also puts in time as a defensive back and quarterback for the Lions.

“He’s a bit like a swiss army knife,” Patrick said. “He can do a lot of things for us.”

Also returning to Louisa’s roster are juniors Robert Morgan IV and Kalup Shelton, who also saw playing time as running backs last season, and seniors Alex Washington and Xavien Hunter. 

The Lions also have a number of players returning on their defense, including seniors Aaron Aponte and Austin Sims, who Patrick boasts are two of “the best linebackers in the area.” 

Most of Louisa’s linemen are veteran players, including seniors David Munos, Griffin Hollins and Adrian Williams, all three of whom made both the All-Jefferson District and All-Region 4B teams for their efforts last season.

There are also several new players Patrick hopes will make a name for themselves this season. Junior Logan McGehee will join the defense as a defensive back, and is someone Patrick says will play a “big role” for the Lions this season. Also new to the defense is sophomore Stephen Dean who will see some playing time as a linebacker.

New to the Lions’ offense is sophomore running back Jordan Smith, younger brother of former standout linebacker Brandon Smith. The family connection is something that Patrick isn’t focusing on, hoping to let Jordan be his own player.

“I don’t like him being compared to his brother,” he said. “He’s just Jordan to me. He’s very coachable and a good athlete.”

The Lions also have a trio of freshmen on the varsity team who will see playing time throughout the season. Landon Wilson joins the team as a quarterback and defensive back, while Qwenton Spellman and Eli Brooks will have places on the front line.

In addition to the new players, the Lions will also have a pair of new teams to face this year, taking on Class 6 powerhouse Massaponax in week three and playing Kettle Run High School in October. 

“We’ve really beefed up the schedule this year,” Patrick said. “I believe you want to play teams that will make you better. It should be a fun season.”

As the start of the season draws nearer, Patrick and the Lions are trying not to worry about the big picture too much and instead work on a smaller scale.

“We’re focusing on the day-to-day things right now,” Patrick said. “We just have to continue to work and gel. We’ve got one more tune-up scrimmage and then get it going for real.”

The Lions traveled to Amherst County High School on Aug. 23 for their final scrimmage. The official start of the season is on Friday, Aug. 30 with a road game against Courtland High School. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.