Redskins back in action

Loudon High School freshman Malaki Sutton performs a series of squats Friday during a workout session in the LHS football weight room.

After being shut down the last two months due to COVID-19, Loudon High School football players and coaches are ready to hit the ground running.

The Redskins returned for individual workouts last week but started conditioning and passing drills Monday night.

“There’s a relief in being able to get back,” Jeff Harig, LHS head football coach, said. “You’ve got to stay away a little bit, but I want to want to get hands on them and pick on them and horse around with them like I always have. I think the biggest thing, though for us, is we’ve got to overcome the unknowns that spring practice would’ve settled. There’s a lot of things that we have question marks about of who’s going to fit in where and how they’re going to fit in. We may not answer those questions this month, but to be able to get back to football and to be able to get them moving in that direction is a good step.”

Weight lifting is a major emphasis right now as players look to regain strength that may have been lost over the last eight weeks.

“The biggest thing is there’s very specific movements that weight training kind of forces you to do,” Harig said. “Some of those muscles you don’t use in every day life, and so getting them back into the swing of things from a movement standpoint, you know, there’s not going to be a whole lot of strength. Getting their muscles back into that movement because at the end of the day, we’re going to be three weeks and done for another two weeks anyway, so you’re not going to gain a whole lot.”

Rising senior running back McKenzie Lunsford is excited to be back with teammates.

“I think it feels great, I mean, I miss the game and I miss this bunch,” he said. “Ever since last season, I’ve been trying to work on my game, and I hope everybody else has. It feels great to be out here with all my guys working. I was finding stuff at home to do, doing some running here and there.”

Junior quarterback Keaton Harig took advantage of the break to get stronger and put on more muscle mass heading into a critical season.

“We got together over the past few weeks,” he said. “We started throwing and going over our routes and stuff. I’ve been in the weight room working out and staying in shape and getting ready for football. It’s good to see everybody get back in the weight room and get back into football. It’s kind of weird because we didn’t really do anything and then started getting in shape.”

Jeff and Keaton have also watched film together. After raising the bar with a 2,000-yard passing season, the dynamic quarterback is a candidate for the Region 3-3A Most Valuable Player award.

“He’s been doing a lot of lifting, a lot of film watching,” Jeff said. “I think the biggest thing that you want from a three-year starter from any position is that understanding of the total picture. No longer should he just know his position, he needs to know everybody’s. I think the biggest jump, I hope, he takes is his completion percentage increases, and he’s really truly able to operate our offense on the field. He’s going to have to get a lot of play-calling responsibilities based on what the defense is doing because we’ve put that time into the film room.”

The Redskins face the same dilemma as other teams across the state after missing out on spring camp, but the coaching staff remains confident with an experienced team returning.

“It has put us behind, but we’ve got a lot of veteran guys that’s coming back,” Harig said. “We’ve got a lot of inexperienced guys that have been in our middle school program and have been in our JV program that now, the only thing left is to do it on Friday night. We think we’re ready, but there’s a lot of kids that haven’t done it yet. The good thing is it’s not like Loudon football decided to take three months off — everybody’s done it.”