Jason Martin knows it won’t be easy, but nothing worth doing ever is.
The 2016 prep football season is right around the corner and the Lakeside Warriors will be led by Martin for the first time. When Joey Pesses left after the 2015, The school went out in search of someone who would re-energize the program and install a new set of standards.
When Lakeside comes together for the start of practice August 1, Warrior players and coaches will begin the process.
“We get to start a little earlier than most of the other LHSAA schools because we didn’t have a spring practice,” Martin said Wednesday. “We had a good summer, got a lot of our offensive and defensive stuff in with 7-on-7 and stuff like that. The thing we’re looking forward to is getting out there with our offensive and defensive lines. We’re looking for improvement and seeing who is picking up this new system well.”
Martin, who comes to Lakeside after stops at North Webster and, most recently, Homer, said the Warriors will spread the ball out a bit more this season on offense.
“It’s a very exciting time of year,” Martin said. “It’s new for me and it’s a new situation for our players too. We have two good quarterbacks competing for the starting job, we have a bunch of good skill guys with some nice hands and a few big bodies up front, so we’re looking to throw it around a little more this year.”
Jayke Stewart and Jordan Pruitt are battling for the QB spot. Stewart, a junior, has more size and is a valuable weapon in the power run game with his size, while Martin said Pruitt, just a freshman, is a tall, lanky player with a gifted arm.
In the trenches, Jordan Richard returns to anchor the offensive line, and DJ Harvey is a big presence up front as well for the Warriors.
“Jordan is, by far, the biggest and strongest kid we have,” Martin said. “DJ will have a chance to anchor the defensive line at nose tackle. Both guys have worked hard over the summer. Now, I’m just ready to get the pads on them.”
Lakeside went 0-10 last season, struggling to score all season and often allowing opponents to score in the 30’s and 40’s. A culture of losing can be difficult to change, but Martin said the process of changing Lakeside football culture began back in June.
“That’s the biggest thing we’re trying to do here,” Martin said of changing the culture around Lakeside football. “We want to change the mindset of the kids. We’re changing the way we practice, we’re changing the way we hold meetings and do things in the weight room. You could really see guys buying in over the summer.”
Still, the fix won’t happen overnight.
“It’s definitely a building process,” Martin said. “It’s going to take some time. We’ve been down the past couple years, but what we’re trying to tell these kids is that we have the players, facilities, the coaches and administration necessary to be successful here. We just have to go out to that practice field and get better everyday, and hopefully by the end of the year we’ll see a big difference.”