When selected as offensive coordinator for Tennessee's
East-West All-Star game, Lenoir City football coach Mike Zeller informed tight end Lucas Hamilton
that he would be putting the senior's name in for nomination to the team.
The East coaching
staff, headed by Greeneville High School head coach Caine Ballard, went through the selection
process to choose who would make the roster, discussing candidates and talking with other head
coaches about specific players.
Eventually, Hamilton became one of two tight ends selected
for the East, along with Maryville's Logan Winders.
“It was really exciting,” Hamilton
said. “I was really proud to get selected to play. Just to go out and play, to finish my senior
football season on a good note. Play this all-star game, play well, perform well and get a chance to
play against some higher competition. It being an all-star game, everybody is going to be top
The coaching position for an all-star team is a first for Zeller, who had worked on
a selection committee for Tennessee all-star teams in the past but never coached a
“It's obviously a big honor,” he said. “These kids and what they've
accomplished in the last four years and where our program is at say a lot about our school and the
kids who have invested a lot of time in it to turn this program around.”
For Hamilton, the
all-star nod was “confirmation of a lot of hard work.”
“He's gotten a lot of
recognition,” Zeller said. “I think it started last year with his size and everything. He got
looks from some colleges with his size. He put in a lot of time and effort, especially these last
“He started taking lifting serious, taking the offseason program serious, which
a lot of kids, not just in this program but all over the state, don't realize the importance of
the offseason, lifting and those things,” he said. “That's really where you become a good
player and teams become good is in the offseason.”
Coming off a strong senior season,
Hamilton was able to become a favorite target of the Lenoir City passing game as a senior.
“You could tell the confidence level after last year went up quite a bit after the season
he had and getting pursued by some colleges,” Zeller said. “It really made him work hard and
that kind of transferred onto the playing field. We also put him on defense too. So he played both
ways this year and he realized that he was a good player and that he could play on both sides of the
ball and he could impact games, and that's exactly what he did.”
Hamilton said his
performance in games, while something he values, is not the legacy he wants to leave on the Lenoir
City football program.
“I don't want to be remembered as a player,” he said. “I want
to be remembered as a teammate, a good teammate, and as someone who helped the younger players to
prepare themselves to play at the varsity level. What we're trying to do here is instill that
Lenoir City isn't just an every once in a while thing. We're going to be year-in and year-out a
good team, go deep into the playoffs and win football games.”
The all-star nod for the
Panthers is something both Zeller and Hamilton feel shows the program in a strong
“Hopefully that will continue, that teams will recognize us as a top notch
program,” Zeller said.
Kickoff for the East-West All-Star game is 1 p.m. (central standard
time) Saturday, Dec. 8, at Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville.