While the outcomes haven’t been what Lakeview football coach Brandon Helms hoped for this fall, the effort and guts of his young Gators have been inspiring, and promising for the future.
As the last road game of the season kicks off at 7 tonight at Winnfield’s Stokes-Walker Stadium, the wear and tear of a grinding schedule and a small roster combine to ramp up the degree of difficulty for the Gators.
“We’re beat up, and will probably be without three starters this week. With our lack of depth, that’s really going without six starters because they all three play both ways, and on special teams,” said Helms. “But we have kids who have come in and worked to step up, and that bodes well for the future, and hopefully this week.”
The banged up Gators are Dillon Ireland up front, running backs and brothers Kaleb Collins and Kylin Collins.
“The Collins’ poor grandmother has one with a broken ankle, and another with a sprained knee,” said Helms.
But Lakeview will doubtlessly get great effort, led by senior linebacker Matthew Howard and junior quarterback and safety Dillon Pikes.
Helms is pleased with the emergence of a younger Gator.
“Jarmarrian Vaughn has had a really good week. He’s a young offensive/defensive lineman for us and he has risen up, just when we need it,” said Helms. “I’m eager to see how he gets after it Friday night.”
Winnfield, coached by former NSU Demon offensive lineman Jay Watson, is a ground-and-pound team.
The Tigers (5-3) won their first three games and their last two, but like Lakeview (1-7) are seeking their first District 3-2A triumph. Winnfield edged Bunkie 7-3 last week after an 11-6 win a week earlier at Menard.
“They do what they do,” said Helms. “They’re 80 percent run, and so you know what they’re going to do and pretty much where they’re going with it. They don’t care. Any time you play a team that runs as much option as they do, there’s the chance they can put the ball on the ground. We’ve got to force those turnovers and cash them in.
“Offensively, we’ve got to keep from turning it over, get first downs and work at our tempo. It’s a good Winnfield team and we’re a hungry, tough, young Lakeview team that has come to play no matter who we are playing.”
Lakeview’s season ends at home next Friday night against defending state champion Many.