Under former six-year NFL veteran Derrick Lewis, Lake Area employed pro-style offensive concepts on the field, capping the 2014 season at 4-4.
It served as a primer. This year, the Fighting Leopards move into District 9-4A — with the likes of Warren Easton and Karr — in their first full season of eligibility.
Despite their program’s inexperience, Lake Area is armed with returning starting quarterback Ricky Jones, another year of familiarity with the offense and potential to be competitive.
Wednesday at Hoss Memtsas, the Fighting Leopards showcased their growth in the system, scoring on three of their first four offensive possessions against Thomas Jefferson and Sci Academy in the spring game.
“My style of offense is a lot more efficient. It’s a lot more potent. It’s a lot faster than what you saw from them,” Lewis said.
“But it’s a process. We’re working on executing basic plays. Our offense looks complicated, but it’s actually very simple, so we’re working on the basic plays, simple route combinations, route depth, efficiency in the passing game and footwork.”
It’s coming together.
Jones, who compiled 3,000-plus total yards and 26 touchdowns, opened the scrimmage with a 55-yard TD to Cyron Sutton.
Later he connected with on a 26-yard touchdown strike for the fourth score.
Sandwiched between the pair were touchdowns of 70 and 67 yards — passes Bryce Kensey completed to Antoine Adams and Ellis McGee.
“The biggest challenge I faced last year and what I’m addressing this season is reading defenses,” Jones said. “I’m learning more. I’m learning the differences between Cover 2 and Cover 3, where the blitz is coming from, those types of things.”
Though Sci Academy and Thomas Jefferson moved the chains via substantial gains on the ground and passing, neither managed a touchdown or a trip into the red zone.
Jaguars coach Kevin Kelly attributed the lack of execution to injuries and inexperience, as Thomas Jefferson graduated three all-district linemen and quarterback Tyler Lavergne.
“Our best player is out,” Kelly said. “(Quarterback) Tyler Butler couldn’t play because he pulled his hamstring. It took away our bread and butter. During spring practice, we’re working on our offensive line. We have some inexperience there, but the defense is picking up right where they left off. They’re the strength of our team with eight or nine starters back.”
The Jaguars defense sacked the quarterback four times while disrupting the line of scrimmage — something Kelly anticipates will continue in the fall.
“(Tyler) can throw. He’ll have to because everyone knows he can run, but he’ll make some plays for us. He’s our Tim Tebow.”