Lakes coach Dave Miller is hoping an offseason commitment to conditioning will help the youthful Lancers persevere through some growing pains. Lakes has reached the Class 3A state semifinals in each of the last two seasons, but only two starters on each side of the ball are back from the 2009 team.
“This is probably the most inexperienced group we’ve ever had,” said Miller.
On offense, quarterback Cedric Dozier and tackle Zach Banner are back, Linebacker Mane Manaea and defensive lineman Eddie Releford return on defense. Non-starters typically see the field in varsity games for Lakes, though.
“One of the things that’s good about our program, when we’re up at halftime we get a lot of young kids in the game,” Miller said. “It’s not at crunch time, but it’s experience.”
Lakes won’t be thrown immediately into the fire, though. The Lancers will play four non-league games before they begin their league schedule. That’s not to say the competition will be easy. Lakes opens against rival Clover Park, hosts 4A Evergreen of Vancouver, plays at a Capital team that returns 20 starters and then faces Wilson.
Miller is eager to see how the Lancers will respond.
“The potential is there,” he said. “It’s going to be fun to see how they do on game night.”
On offense, Lakes relied almost exclusively on its rushing attack last season. That won’t be the case this fall. Miller said Dozier’s passing accuracy has improved enough that he’s envisioning a 50-50 split between running and passing plays.
“We spent the whole spring and summer throwing the you-know-what out of the ball,” he said. “I think Cedric is accurate enough now that he can do those things.”
Lakes will also employ a no-huddle offense. In the backfield, running backs Daniel Davis, Levonte Littlejohn and transfer Dre Milton will handle the bulk of the carries. Manaea will assume slot receiver duties and Miller said he’s been impressed with a handful of receivers.
Joining Manaea and Releford on defense will be defensive tackle John Schueler, Dozier, who will start at cornerback, Milton at linebacker and Banner, a 6-foot-8, 290-pound junior, will see time at defensive end, “just to see what he can disrupt.”