Warriors to host Hobgood

Published 7:12 pm Wednesday, September 12, 2012

MERRY HILL – Lawrence Academy will have a dual purpose here Friday night.

The Warrior football team will be celebrating the 20-year anniversary of the 1992 state football championship for the school, but will also be searching for win number one during the 2012 campaign.

Second-year LA skipper Beau Drake knows both are important and said he looks forward to having a successful night Friday. He said he is also aware of the distractions that can occur.

“Sure, it can be a distraction,” he said. “We have family members and others telling us how important it is to win and we certainly don’t want to let our alumni down. By the same token, the best way to do that is to focus and take care of our jobs. If we don’t do that, you can get unfocused fast. The hype and emotion can take its toll.”

Drake said his team was spending a lot of time this week simply preparing for Hobgood Academy, who will come into Friday night’s contest fresh off an 88-54 win over Halifax Academy.

“They’re the real deal,” he said of Hobgood. “They have everyone back from last year and especially three breakaway running backs that can take it to the house anytime.”

Drake said his team had been focusing on their defensive efforts.

“What we’re going to do is try to throw some stuff at them they haven’t seen,” he said. “We’re going to attack and be aggressive. We’ve been working on tackling, especially in the open field.

“Their offense is powerful and we have to contain it as best we can,” he added.

The Lawrence offense has struggled in recent weeks, but Drake said he believes they can get going Friday if they work well during this practice week.

“We have been slow to get going in the first three weeks, but I think we played our best so far Friday,” Drake said. “We were inside the 25-yardline four times and couldn’t punch it in and we’ve worked on how to finish. We have to get a mindset of not being denied when we get in that close.”

The Warriors have played some of the top clubs in the league in their opening three weeks, losing to Word of God, St. Davids and Cary Christian.

“We have 28 players, which is a good number, but only six have varsity football experience,” he said. “Every Friday is like a test – we get some right, we get some wrong. We try to emphasize the stuff we did well and correct our mistakes as we go into the next week.”

As they do that this week, they will have a vast audience on hand. Many of the members of the 1992 state championship squad – which coincidentally defeated Hobgood in the title game – and former Lawrence Head Coach Golden Simpson have been invited to be on hand.

“We want to honor that team and we have invited them to be part of our pregame meal and to be around the team during warm-ups,” Drake said. “We’re also going to honor them at halftime.”

Drake said he hoped the current football team would gain from the interaction.

“I think having the former players around will help,” he said. “I think they will see from those guys how special it is to play at Lawrence Academy. I hope it will trigger in them the notion of what a special time this is.”

The celebration and football game will kick off at 7:30 p.m. Friday.