While the football season has ended for Lakewood High School, they did much to be proud of this year. Tying for most victories in their school’s history with a season standing of 11-3, they also earned the most shutout victories in a season with eight and made it through the first few rounds of the playoffs.
Losing in the third round was not an ideal end to their season but as head coach James Lewis has said, “One game does not define a season.”
The Leopards have more than a few juniors to watch out for who will be returning, including the likes of Shemar Tucker, Jaylin Avery and Jaylen Torres. They will also return standout Jahdon Smith, who broke a single-season record for rushing with over 2,000 yards on the ground, 1,590 of them coming during the regular season.
Lewis admitted he was a little worried going into the season after losing 21 seniors, but his team made him proud this year.
“We had a great group of boys this year,” said Lewis. “They worked hard; anything we asked them to do they did. I’m very proud of them.”
While the final game of the season was not what one would have liked to see with a 49-7 loss to the James A. Holmes’ Aces, Lewis was not blaming his team.
“It was just one of those nights. Sometimes you get snowballed and you get those games where the boys know it’s not going to end well. They had a great team, we knew they’d give us trouble, but my boys played well,” he remarked.
Lakewood is out for the season now but with a good core group of returners, expectations could be just as high for next season as they were this year, working toward a goal being key.
“Well you learn something every year,” said Lewis, who decided against retiring this year and instead came back to help coach this season’s team, providing his experience to a young team. “If I had to think about it, I’d say this year I learned if you can convince a group of boys to work towards a goal they’ll give it their all and make you proud.”
The Leopards were above the national average in touchdowns with 62 total; rushing yards at 3,427, with an average of 263.6 yards per game; sacks with 21 total; and interceptions with 13.
“We did what we do every year,” Lewis concluded, “work hard and try our best.”
Reach Chris Froat at [email protected] Follow us on Facebook and Twitter @SampsonInd.