Photo By Wes Turner - #44 Logan James
Written by Zack Kellogg
After a disappointing 2019 season that ended with six straight losses, the Lakeland Hawks are looking to put the state on notice for 2020, starting with taking the 4A Inland Empire crown for the first time since 2016.
Don’t let the Hawks’ record last year fool you. Five of their seven losses were decided by one score, showing that a win or a loss is decided by every play and mistake.
With the graduation of Brandon Furey, the third-leading passer in 4A state-wide, junior quarterback Devon Suko is expected to be under center, coming back from an injury that ended his season early in 2019.
“Devon broke his leg in the second to last game last year. He is also a tremendous wrestler and unfortunately missed his season. He absolutely attacked his rehab, though, and was back much quicker than originally predicted,” Kiefer said. “(Devon) has put himself squarely in the mix for our quarterback competition. He is as tough as they come.”
Arguably the best player on the offense is senior Ammon Munyer at tight end.
Kiefer, who has been at Lakeland since before some of his players were born, has seen his fair share of new faces, but Munyer might be one of the best prospects in his arsenal.
“Every player is important because of how we try and spread the ball around. We ask a lot of our tight end in terms of blocking, moving around formationally and route running, and Ammon Munyer is exceptional at it,” Kiefer said. “He is the best player in Idaho, in my opinion, and one of the best tight ends I’ve ever had the pleasure of coaching.”
But the offense is not going to simply center around Suko and Munyer’s connection in the passing game.
Alden Waddington, Richie Thomas and Trevor Vanmeetern at receiver will make it difficult for teams to double team Munyer. And if opposing defenses do focus too much on the passing game, John White and Logan James make up a duo in the backfield who can produce hard-fought yards and wear defenses out, thanks in part to the offensive line.
“We want to be the best blocking team in Idaho on the line and the perimeter. We want to run the ball first and foremost and then threaten the perimeter with our skill players. Most importantly, is that we play unselfish football. We don’t care who gets the credit. We’re going to do our job relentlessly and that is how we will be as successful as we can be,” Kiefer said. “I would call us balanced. I consider balance being every player is a threat to touch the ball on any given play.
On defense, the three-man defensive front is where the tone must be set and the aggressive style of football the Hawks want to establish will start, without giving up on the basics.
“Stopping the run, flying to the football and tackling, handling the basics. We need to be good at the fundamental components of football,” Kiefer said. “Upfront we are older and stronger, we will do a better job this year of controlling the line of scrimmage. It all starts on the defensive line. If we can get it done there, it will all fall into place.”
Lakeland kicks off the season at Lake City on Friday, August 28. Check back with IdahoSports.com for updated scores and schedules.