Lakeville South is entering what might be their most highly profiled season in the program’s brief history. Much of the hype is due to their University of Minnesota-bound senior quarterback Mitch Leidner. He, along with returning receiving weapons Matt Heller, Devon Bzoskie, and Trent Bertamus have led many to deem Lakeville South as the preseason favorite in the South Suburban Conference.
While attending a South practice on Thursday, it was evident that their offense has the potential to put up big numbers this season. They have great depth at the skill positions as long-time head coach Larry Thompson is quick to point out.
“We have so many guys that can catch the ball on this team,” Thompson said. “There are some guys in our program that would start for us nine years out of ten…but not this year.”
Ty Powell, Chris Moore, and Austin Britnell are among the others expected to play a key role in the Cougar offen
Although South has a vast assortment of offensive talent, much of their success this season will hinge on the play of their young and very much unproven offensive line. The Cougars are only returning one starter, Tom Ryan, from last season’s offensive line. The South coaching staff knew this would be a challenge heading into the year. Thompson, who often delegates autonomy to his position coaches, was noticeably more hands on with the offensive line in practice on Thursday morning.
“So far the most pleasing thing for us as a staff has been the o-line,” he said. “We have asked a lot of inexperienced guys to step up and prove themselves and so far they have done everything we’ve asked of them.”
The issue of inexperience not only effects the offensive line; many of the players contending for starting spots on South’s defense have had minimal playing time on Varsity. Luckily for Thompson and defensive coordinator Shane Minske, the few returning starters from last year’s defense were some of the most vocal leaders at Thursday’s practice. Linebacker Eric Heintze and safety Matt Mehlhorn were almost as vocal as their coaches during team and individual drills. Lineman Brandon Meek and linebacker Nevin Andreas are also expected to make significant impacts on defense this season.
The mood of the practice on Thursday was calm and laid back; almost all of Thompson’s practices are, but that didn’t mean he didn’t breakout his trademark intensity.
“Let’s step it up a little bit,” he shouted during a drill during the afternoon session. “I’m not into losing games!”
As if this was news to his players. Thompson has accrued 233 victories in his career as head coach in Lakeville. The 2011 edition of the Cougars are certain to add to that win total. And if they live up to their own expectations, they would give their coach another state championship as well.