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Player of the Week: Matt Askounis

POSTED: October 17, 2011 8:46 p.m.

Matt Askounis, according to his coach, is a playmaker, plain and simple. The Lakeview Academy senior began the season as the quarterback in the Lions’ triple-option offense, but in an effort to put one of his most dangerous offensive threats in a better position to succeed, coach Matthew Gruhn moved Askounis to tailback.

Safe to say, the plan is working.

"This was just a way to get him out in space a little bit more," Gruhn said. "We felt like Ted (Reynolds) could operate under center. It was a risk, it was a chance, but we just felt like it was better for our team and it’s paid off very well for us."

Each game since the position switch, the Lions’ offense has improved, scoring 10 points in a win over Hebron Christian on Sept. 23, 21 points in a loss to River Ridge on Oct. 7, and culminating with a season-high 49 points in a win over North Cobb Christian on Friday.

Askounis was a big part of that, rushing for 151 yards on nine carries and two touchdowns before exiting the game early in the second half. For his efforts, Askounis is The Times High School Football Player of the Week.

"It’s going pretty good," Askounis said of the backfield shuffle. "Ted’s really stepped up at quarterback, and I think it’s just helped out the team more than anything."

The numbers seem to support him. In Friday’s 49-22 win, Askounis’ big night accounted for only about 1/3 of the offense as the Lions (2-4) piled up 455 total yards and matched the program record for points in a game. Reynolds added 143 yards on 15 carries, and Jackson Strickland had 88 yards on eight carries.

"Everybody was just doing their job and helping each other out," Askounis said. "The line did a good job with their blocking and gave us a lot more room to run and make plays."

After a slow start to the season, Lakeview has now won two out of its last three games and is hoping to finish at 4-4 for the second straight season with wins over Georgia Military and Towns County.

"Over the season, we’ve gotten a little better each week," Askounis said. "I think we can definitely finish .500 if we keep playing the way we’re playing."

Gruhn said he’s also seen growth in his team after graduation depleted the Lions of numerous starters from last season.

"I guess every offense is an excecution offense, but certainly the triple (option) is definitely one, and we just seem to be getting better and better and hopefully that’ll continue," Gruhn said.

Lakeview returns to action Friday, hosting Georgia Military in its final home game of the season. For Askounis and fellow senior Ralph Brooks — the only seniors on the Lions’ 27-man roster — it’s also the last home game of their high school football careers.

"It’s hard to believe it really," Askounis said. "It hasn’t really hit me yet; I think it’s going to be hard when it does.

"But it’s been a good run."

Askounis has done his part to make sure of that.



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