Lakeview has fresh approach going into visit to Bunkie

When the Lakeview Gators football team heads down to Bunkie for tonight’s non-district matchup, it’ll be running on some recharged batteries.

A team meeting Monday has produced exactly what the doctor ordered, said head coach Brandon Helms. Pair that with some adjustments in strategy and personnel, and the Gators don’t look or feel like a 1-3 team that’s dropped its last two games.

“We’ve had our best week of practice,” said Helms. “The guys came in and went to work. We made a few personnel changes, some due to injury and some due to needing to be better, up front on both sides of the ball.

“We had a big team meeting Monday and talked about pride and culture. Each of us has responsibilities in those areas, it’s up to all of us,” he said. “I want losing to hurt. I’ve seen it hurt, and that’s the first step. We will find ways to win, with guys who don’t want to lose, because they’ll give that extra effort.

“It seems like there’s been a different attitude this week, a different pace to how we worked. If what you’re doing is not successful, you’ve got to change, and that’s what we are doing,” he said.

Among the team leaders spearheading the bounce-back, one has especially stood out — Matthew Howard, Lakeview’s senior middle linebacker.

“He has been a great leader this week,” said Helms. “He’s had two knee surgeries since our last game in 2020. He’s fighting through it, and as long as he can go, he’s gonna go.

“He’s not going to lay down, and that attitude has bled over into a good number of the other players. He said, ‘I don’t have another shot. This is it, and I’m doing everything I can.’ “

Like Lakeview, Bunkie is coming off a lopsided loss on its homefield. The Panthers (2-1) outscored Marksville and Pickering 57-8 in their first two games, sandwiched around a open date, then were blasted by district foe Avoyells 54-13 last Friday.

“They’re very unique on offense. They spread you out, do a great job of running the ball,” said Helms. “I’m very impressed with their offensive line. They come off the ball very well and play hard. Their quarterback is an excellent athlete, a competitor, a grinder. He can be a game changer and he makes everybody around him better.

“They’ve always been really good on defense, well prepared, and they make it hard on you. They figure out what you do best and make sure you won’t be able to do it against them. They’re solid and well coached.

“They’re gonna have so many guys on (Lakeview quarterback) Dillon Pikes, it’s not going to be funny. We’ve been working on doing some things differently. They’ll key on Dillon. He knows that, our team knows that. They’re going to try to take him out of it, and we have to find ways to keep him in it,” said Helms.

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