The itch to return to the sideline was too much for Lee Shaw to resist.
A year after retirement, the veteran football coach jumped back into coaching to head the 2020 Lakeview Academy Lions football program.
And it has already shown signs of success, like his previous stints at Flowery Branch and Rabun County.
Shaw has built his career on building or revitalizing programs.
After Year 1, things are headed in a good direction. The Lions (5-3 in 2020) secured their second winning season since 2012.
However, this led them to making the Class A state playoffs for the first time in school history.
“When you’re building a program, you have to have an area that is hungry for success,” Shaw said. “You have to get kids believing. You don’t make excuses.”
Shaw is familiar with the passion of football fans in Hall County.
He led Flowery Branch at the pinnacle of its early success, including a run to the 2008 state championship game.
His next revitalization project was Rabun County.
While he looks back at the success over the years, Shaw sees the same potential at Lakeview Academy.
“I found myself wanting to be back coaching kids,” Shaw said. “For me, it is about the pieces of the puzzle together. This is fulfilling my goals to give them (student-athletes) the opportunity to be successful.”
During the one year away from the sideline, Shaw learned his passion is to be coaching and mentoring young players. Being up late watching video, having staff meetings and just being on the road bus trips were appealing to the veteran coach.
Simply put: He enjoys the grind.
“I realized once I got back into it, I realized how much I missed the grind, excitement, the brotherhood and watching players’ development,” Shaw said. “Some things weren’t all bad (prior to retirement).”
- Aug. 20 at Mount Paran Christian
- Aug. 27 at Darlington
- Sept. 3 RABUN GAP
- Sept. 10 at Walker
- Sept. 17 at Towns County
- Oct. 1 FELLOWSHIP CHRISTIAN*
- Oct. 8 at King’s Ridge Christian*
- Oct. 15 at Mount Pisgah Christian*
- Oct. 29 at St. Francis*
- Nov. 5 at Providence Christian*
Lions hit the weight room
The excitement of making the state playoffs for the first time in school history is a major accomplishment, but there is more to it than showing up. Lakeview Academy was bounced from those playoffs by North Cobb Christian in the first round of the Class A private schools bracket.
Immediately after the final horn, or the proverbial tip of the hat to the opposing coach, Shaw realized his Lions needed to hit the weight room.
They needed to get stronger.
Lakeview Academy committed to the weight room in the winter, in the spring and through the summer.
“They wore us down,” he said. “You can tell they (North Cobb Christian) have been in the weight room. We really committed in getting stronger and faster. Hopefully, that will pay dividends this season.”
Getting stronger creates the mental toughness needed to be on the gridiron. Players have to find a way to dig deep when things get tough on the field. Building strength creates confidence.
“When you get to the fourth quarter, who has the heart to make a play? When you get stronger, you get tougher.”
Locking in defensively
Lakeview Academy’s defense will be anchored by Sam Perrott, Landon Hanes and Luke Cooper.
Each of these players played vital roles on the school’s first playoff season.
Perrott is an all-around athlete, who will start at safety. This senior is also the team’s backup quarterback with plenty of experience.
Hanes and Cooper are juniors, who were all-region linebackers.
They will also be the Lions’ running backs. This trio will anchor the defense.
The Lions graduated 15 seniors from 2020’s squad.
Replacing a large number of seniors is difficult.
Lakeview Academy has no more than 30 players on the roster.
This year’s team will need to build depth on players who do not have as much field time or snaps.
Sean Lupczynski is a lineman with game experience for the Lions.
Harrison Cooper is being thrown into the fire as starting quarterback for Lakeview Academy, while Stewart Daniels is a sophomore wide receiver.
Many of them played only basketball last season.
So, the Lions will continue playing players on both ends of the field. The depth has to be formed by playing time.
Building on success
Shaw took the Lakeview Academy job with a vision in mind.
He wants to continue winning and building like he did at previous stops.
His goal is to put the Lions in the same conversation with Prince Avenue Christian, Greater Atlanta Christian and many other notable private schools across the state.
Shaw knows it is a mountain to climb.
“We want to continue to have a winning record and get in the playoffs,” Shaw said. “We want to advance out of the first round.”
1. Andrew Pope WR/OLB Sr.
2. Toni Reyes WR/DB Jr.
3. Isaiah Rico WR/DB Jr.
5. Davison Filson RB/LB Sr.
6. Sam Perrott WR/SEC Sr.
7. Luke Cooper RB/LB Jr.
8. Liam Weidner WR/DB Jr.
9. James Cobb QB/LB Fr.
10. Jason Appel WR/DB Jr.
11. Ethan Croft WR/DB Fr.
12. Harrison Cooper QB/DB Fr.
15. Bryan Ramsey K So
17. Cannon Deringer WR/DB So.
18. Ryan Coolidge K Jr.
21. Palmer White RB/LB Fr.
22. Kastian Haynes WR/OLB So.
23. Jay Dave’ K So.
24. Isaac Marcero WR/DB Jr.
25. Jacob Davenport WR/DB So.
34. Landon Hanes RB/LB Jr.
50. Konner Adams OL/DL Fr.
51. Sam Carter OL/LB Sr.
54. Stuart Daniel OL/LB So.
55. Sean Lupczynski OL/DL Sr.
60. Bennett Wayne OL/DL So.
65. Thomas Berry OL/DL Jr.
66. Evan Yaskulka OL/DL So.
74. Niko Benz OL/DL Fr.
75. Charlie Peck OL/DL So.
77 .Drake Dobbs OL/DL Fro.