Lovelady Lions 2022 Football Preview
By Larry Lamb
LOVELADY — The Lovelady Lions have taken their can-do attitude a step further by adopting the motto “We Will” for the 2022 season.
Head coach Will Kirchhoff credits his grandfather with providing the motto.
“I’ve talked to my grandparents every Wednesday since I was 18 years old. My grandfather coached for many years and he always has little nuggets of advice that he imparts on me, which is neat. Growing up, when he asked you to do something you didn’t tell him you CAN do it. You’d say you WILL do it because that’s part of being responsible,” said Kirchhoff.
Fans may hear the Lions bark their new motto whenever they break out to take the field.
“When we say 'We Will' we're talking about making a commitment to our teammates. We all have worked four years to get the athletic ability and the tools in place to be strong enough and fast enough to get the job done. We’re past the point of being capable and now we will do it,” said Kirchhoff.
The Lions, who return seven starters both ways, are picked to win their new district. Deweyville is the projected runnerup, followed by Evadale, Colmesneil, Hull-Daisetta and Sabine Pass.
Senior Shaun Easterling has been turning heads as a running back the past two years and the Lions are expecting big things from him as signal caller. He is Texas Football’s District Preseason Offensive MVP after receiving back-to-back District Offensive MVP awards and All-State honors. Easterling verbally committed to Lamar University as a running back in July.
“Shaun has made a big name for himself as a running back and that’s still going to be a large part of what we do. Putting him back there is going to give us a little more dimension as far as making everyone honor the quarterback run game. Our running backs are going to be good so they’re going to draw a lot attention. But if you’re not keyed on him the quarterback will get you too,” said the coach. “Shaun never surprises me in what he can do. He’s so far ahead reading defenses and putting balls where he needs to. He’s continually getting better.”
Easterling, a two-time state qualifier in the 110 hurdles, has put on about 20 pounds in the last year, noted Kirchhoff.
“When he went to state as a sophomore he was about 190 pounds and last year he was about 215. He put in the work in the weight room and he’s growing,” added the coach. “He wants to play college football and he knows he has to put on that muscle.”
Running backs Dayvian Skinner and Jordan Blackmon, a pair of 200-plus pounders, will join Easterling in the backfield.
“They’re not just back there because they’re big. They’re both good ball carriers. Having that amount of size behind our O-line is going to be extremely quick and aggressive. Those guys on the line get after it. They’re a unit. We don’t have one dominant lineman on offense and defense but as a unit they’re very good. T
hey’re very tight knit and work their tails off. They take a lot of pride in being linemen, which is the most important position in Lovelady, Texas."
Offensively, the Lions will primarily be in a two-back set with a tight end.
The Lions’ roster is deep with a bevy of running backs and receivers. “We’re fortunate that we have guys we can cycle through and not miss a beat at blocking or catching the ball. That’s going to help us. Even in a game where everybody’s healthy we can cycle those guys through and make sure everybody’s fresh."
Kirchhoff said the starting lineup will vary each week depending on the opponent, but tentative starters are:
Right tackle- Erik Castillo
Right guard- Ben Monk
Center- Tyler Gilchrist
Left guard- Silas Strength
Left tackle- Alvaro Gonzalez
Tight end- Brandon Fry
Quarterback- Shaun Easterling
Running backs- Davian Skinner and Jordan Blackmon
Wide receivers- Skylar Pipkin and J. J. Crawford.
Defensive ends -- Shaun Easterling and Dayvian Skinner.
Defensive tackles- Erik Castillo and Ben Monk
Middle linebacker- Brandon Fry.
Outside linebackers- Landen LeBlanc and Troy Shupak.
Corner backs- Cody Davis and Skylar Pipkin
Safeties – Blake Patrick and Jackson Jeffries.
Dayvian Skinner will handle kickoffs and extra points while Skylar Pipkin takes care of the punting chores.
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