Indeed, there seems to be a level of enthusiasm on the practice
field this season that may not be equally shared by the pundits who
predict a seventh-place finish for the LCHS varsity team.
Two returning seniors, receiver Kyle Frick (No. 1) and defensive
back Wes Neece (No. 11), will be the first to tell you that the team
is underrated and that they will surprise people this year. Both
players made first team all-conference last year.
The team "looks to be shaping up really good," says Kyle, adding
that there are several players returning on offense, with a new mix
of players on defense.
Wes feels that this team is the best of the teams over the three
years that he has been playing football at LCHS. "The biggest
competition is ourselves -- if we play to full potential, we can
beat anyone," he says.
Both players agree that the rivalry with Springfield High School
has intensified, after the team beat SHS last year in the last
seconds of the game. Chatham and Lanphier also are very competitive
LCHS head coach Jared Shaner agrees. "For a while we weren't
competitive -- but now we've beat Springfield and Lanphier," he
notes. He predicts that the Springfield game will be an "intense
game this year."
Shaner, who has a teaching major and coaching minor from Illinois
State University, came to LCHS in 2004, when he talked with
then-Coach Oaks and became defensive coordinator in 2004-05 for two
seasons. Shaner is now in his third season as head coach. Before
then, he was assistant coach at Olympia School for four years. He
has known he wanted to be a head coach since his sophomore year in
About the seventh-place ranking this year Shaner says, "(We) take
those things with a grain of salt. They haven't been out here with
these kids all summer. We're gonna surprise some people. This team
has a lot of talented young kids."
He adds that there are nine returning starters on offense and
that they were the third-best offense last year. Also, says Shaner,
the new kids are fitting in really well.
As for the underclass teams, Shaner is pleased with the freshman
numbers (25-30 players) but notes that the sophomore numbers are
down (14 players) and that freshmen will be used to complete that
[to top of second column]
The freshman team is "solid," according to Shaner. About 12-15
players have been coming to summer workouts consistently for three
days a week. They are led by quarterback James Liesinger, who comes
from a strong family football history at LCHS. As eighth-graders the
team posted a record of 7-2 last year.
As practices start, the team will concentrate over the first few
days on the playbook and the offense. "We'll throw a whole bunch at
them in the beginning and let them sort it out," says Shaner. They
will then even out practices soon to incorporate offense, defense
and special teams.
Shaner has a hands-on approach for all the teams and maintains
great lines of communication. His advice to his coaching staff is to
keep their perspective and to ask themselves, "Why are you a
football coach?" The coach's answer to his own question is "to have
a positive impact on 70-80 young men." He says that his coaching
team, made up of businessmen, teachers and administrators, make a
great staff and genuinely care about the players.
The freshman coaches are Doug Benz and Joe Walters. The sophomore
coaches are Jeff Cooper and Andy McDonald. The varsity coaches are
Ryan Bast, Davis Hodam, Joe Ryan and Jared Shaner.
[By GEOFF LADD]
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