A season of uncertainty followed by a season of uncertainty.
In 2007, the startup Lions went 7-0 playing a junior varsity schedule. Lakeview’s hoping its first year to field a varsity squad proves as fruitful.
"We expect to go into every game and be competitive," second-year Lakeview coach Matthew Gruhn said. "We want to have a chance to win; that’s our goal."
Lakeview will play in Region 8-A against proven opponents like Wesleyan, which moved from Class AA, Athens Academy and Commerce.
Gruhn knows his Lions team won’t be as big, fast or experienced as the competition, but isn’t concerned with that.
"We won’t have the speed advantage or size advantage in most games we play," he said. "We’re small, but you can negate size with toughness and quickness."
Lakeview’s scheme, the triple option, is based in execution and unselfishness.
Gruhn wants it no other way.
"We are going to try and be very good at what we do," Gruhn said. "We are going to take care of Lakeview, and whatever else happens, happens."
At the helm of the offense will be senior quarterback Haughton Carswell.
"He executes so well," Gruhn said. "He’s just a great decision maker."
Helping Carswell out at the skill positions will be Patrick McCormack, Austin White, Nick Saye, Tom Drury and Jordan Chastain.
"If everyone does their job, if kids will block for each other and then run the ball hard when it’s their time, we could be a decent offense."
Aside from not having played a full varsity schedule, a weakness may be the offensive line which, according to Gruhn, is in the developmental stages.
A new scheme for a new beginning.
The Lions went with a 4-3 in 2007 but have changed things up for 2008, going with a 3-4.
The reason for the change stems from a lack of experience on the defensive line, combined with Gruhn’s thought that the Lions linebackers and secondary will be the team’s defensive strengths.
"Our defensive line has improved," Gruhn said, "but we want to give ourselves an advantage, and going to the new defense does that we think."
Lex Little, the team’s leading tackler in 2007, will be called upon to lead the linebacking corps. He will be helped by Chastain, Saye and Drury.
"We feel great about our linebackers and expect them all to have big years," Gruhn said.
The secondary will be led by Carswell, White, Dalton Munday and Charlie Parks.
"It doesn’t really matter what you run because it’s about kids buying in," Gruhn said. "We need 11 guys running to the ball, and if they’ll buy into that idea then we’ll be successful."
According to Gruhn, his special teams can be an equalizer against the competition.
"We are going to put our better athletes back there (as returners) and give them a chance to make big plays," Gruhn said.
Those, "better athletes," will be White, Munday and Parks.
"Austin (White) had breakaway speed," Gruhn said, "and can do things for us in that area."
Gruhn expects to be able to control field position with Saye as the team’s kicker.
"Nick (Saye) can easily kick 48-yard field goals," Gruhn said. "With him as our kicker we should be able to back teams into a corner."
Intelligence, execution and heart can win games, and success isn’t always a zero in the loss column.
Will Lakeview be bigger, faster, stronger or as experienced as the competition? No.
But what the Lions lack in experience and physicality they will try make up for with heart and confidence.
Regardless of varsity or junior varsity, 14 starters are returning from an undefeated season and confidence is confidence, no matter what level you play.
According to Gruhn, the Lions leader Carswell plays bigger and faster than he is.
If Carswell’s teammates follow his lead, success is on the horizon.