Monday, October 13, 2008

LCA's deceptive rushing attack responsible for 7-0 start

By ROGER GARFIELD • • October 9, 2008

Lancaster Christian Academy has successfully built its football foundation by mastering deception.

The Knights, with only 27 players — and none of them terribly imposing — do not scare teams physically. Yet they are outscoring the opposition 241-46.

And in just their second year as a team — and their final season before joining the Division II ranks of the TSSAA — they are 7-0, seeking perfection.

“We’ve had a lot of teams this year,” said senior Justin Potts, “who didn’t warm up hard, sit there and looked at us when we were warming up and kind of just blew us off, because we’re a little team. But when we come out there on the field, they figure it out real quick.”

Using an run-heavy offense that combines single-wing and double-wing philosophies — coach Rayburn Greene calls it “48 minutes in a phone booth” — the Knights are averaging close to 350 yards rushing per game.

Potts has flourished in the system, already surpassing 1,000 yards for the second straight year and racking up 18 touchdowns along the way. And both Elliot Medlen and Stephen Dye have amassed more than 400 yards.

“It’s a lot of misdirection,” Greene said. “I was a wing-T guy before I came here ... and I love any offense that has a wing. I felt like it gave us a chance with low numbers and less athleticism to be successful. I’d rather misdirect someone than block them.”

The offense begins with careful spacing along the line, where Greene encourages his blockers to touch one another’s feet — bunching up as tight as they can. When the ball is snapped to freshman quarterback Dominique Bell, that’s when the confusion starts.

“We have so many people going each way, it’s hard to follow,” Potts said. “And definitely the line has stepped up this year and blocked a lot better. We’ve got a lighter line this year, but they’re a lot quicker.”

‘More of a family’

Potts is one of six seniors the Knights will lose next year when they make the leap to the TSSAA. Another senior is former Blackman player Caleb Ingram, a 6-foot-7, 225-pound tight end/defensive end who’s receiving interest from such Football Bowl Subdivision schools as Iowa, Louisville and Vanderbilt.

While Ingram left a Class 5A school to come to LCA and will miss out on their time in the TSSAA, he is proud to play for the Knights because their hard work has paid off this season.

“We’ve got something special going on here — a second-year team maybe going undefeated,” he said. “And we’re like more of a family than just being 90 players on a football team.”

They’ve come a long way from the team that went 5-5 a year ago.

“This year we’re real serious, real focused, and we’ve got almost an ice-water-in-our-veins mentality — just mean,” Ingram said.

Said Greene: “The identity of this team really is coachability. We don’t have a lot of athletes on this team — almost every week the other team has more athletes than we do — but our kids are very coachable and they’re very tough.”

A bright future

While the trajectory of the program is somewhat unpredictable, Greene is confident that LCA will soon have its own facility. The Knights currently play their games at Veterans Memorial Park in La Vergne and practice on a remote field behind Smyrna Elementary School.

“The support’s there,” Greene said. “I think the school is beginning to understand how important a great sports program is, and particularly a football program is to the growth of a high school.”

It sure means a lot to the underclassmen, who believe the Knights’ success can extend past this season. Four of the Knights, however, are home-schooled, so when the team switches to the TSSAA, those players must be enrolled at LCA if they wish to keep playing.

“I want to try to come here next year, because I love football,” said sophomore Lio Logoleo, who is home-schooled. “That’s all I want to do is play football for Lancaster.”

Greene feels like his team is in a position to not only bring players like Logoleo to the school, but others from around Rutherford County, as well.

“I have to believe the area that we’re in ... that there’s going to be plenty of kids that give us a look with the success that we’ve had this year, and especially now that we’re going to be a TSSAA school,” Greene said.

“The sky’s the limit with the location that we’re in.”

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