The football season is upon us as high schools around the state started practice last Monday. Hopes of state championships are at the top of every team’s wish list.
In Shinnston, second year Head Coach Rob Hawkins is looking forward to getting this season underway. Hawkins has good reason to be excited as Lincoln football is in his blood. A Cougar graduate who has been following or coaching his alma mater for as long as he can remember takes a great deal of pride in running this program.
The numbers are high and many of those out are returners with valuable experience. “We have forty players out with seventeen of them returning starters on both sides of the ball,” explained Hawkins.
After last season the returners knew exactly what Hawkins and his staff wanted from them so soon as the season ended preparation for this campaign began with several players making their way to the weight room. “We had a much better offseason than we did last year. Thirty-seven of the forty players were in the gym. We had a lot of kids in the weight room. They are just excited about football.”
When athletes spend a great deal of time together they tend to come together as a unit and that is exactly what has happened at Lincoln. “Our team chemistry is really good. They went through the battle last year and they are excited to get back out there and have a much better season than last year.”
The Cougars finished 2014 with a 2-8 record but that record could have been much different if a few breaks would have went their way. There were four games that provided close losses that could have changed the outcome of the season. “Those four games you can point to. We lost all of them by less than a touchdown and all of them in the fourth quarter. That has been a motivating factor to get into the weight room. I’m hoping that pays off for these kids.”
That offseason effort has already paid dividends as this year’s edition is making strides. “We feel like we finished that first week ahead of schedule and that will give us a chance to get more reps in and sort of polish things up better than we have been able to the last couple of years. Last year we felt that if we were a little further along we could have won that game (the season opener). Hopefully, this will allow us to get everything installed and everything polished before August 28th.”
The Cougar coaching staff is working overtime to make sure that this team will be prepared for battle this year. They have a few tune-ups in the preseason to prepare for the opener. The first is a scrimmage set for this Saturday with Ravenswood. Then the following Wednesday Lincoln will entertain Doddridge County and Clay-Battelle. After the dust from those lock ups settle then Hawkins will have a better working knowledge of where his team stands. “We will have a week and a half to evaluate after those two scrimmages.”
That will do it for now. Until next week…take care and God bless!