LOUDON, Tenn. (WATE)- The Loudon Redskins went unscathed in the regular season and were close to notching their first state title since 1975, but were knocked out of the running after losing to five-time defending state champs Alcoa in the semifinals.
Head coach Jeff Harig says the team has carried around that loss, using it as fuel for this season—not only chasing a title but chasing what they call the “Alcoa standard.”
“That’s a different animal,” said Harig. “That standard of execution, you know, you don’t measure it by your opponent this week, there’s that ‘Alcoa standard ‘as we call it and that’s what we strive for.”
Loudon returns six players on offense and three on defense—building up inexperienced players on defense.
With a defense young in experience this season coupled with no scrimmages to test their team’s ability, Loudon will lean on their seasoned quarterback and an experienced offensive line to steady the team the first couple of games.
“We have gotten a good look in practice but being ready to play a game in this short amount of time without what we’re used to has been a tough thing,” said Harig.
The offense is lead by Harig’s son Keaton, who put up some big numbers last season. Last year as a sophomore, Keaton set a school single-season passing record throwing for over two thousand yards and 34 touchdowns. He also set a school single-game record for touchdown passes with seven in their victory over York Institute in the first round of playoffs.
Harig is expecting another big year for his son, giving him more freedom at the line of scrimmage to call plays.
“We feel like we have enough skill players to kind of spread the field and it’s his job to get the ball to the guy that’s open,” said Harig.
Another key playmaker in the backfield this season is rising senior McKenzie Lunford. As a junior, he dueled as safety and running back—posting more than 800 yards on the ground.
This season he is expected to replace Drew Jackson at starting tailback.
“He will be the one where if he goes, we’ll go as a team,” said Harig.
Semy Turner will be another name that jumps out on offense this season, returning as one of the top targets for Keaton.
“After that, it’s kind of like a basketball team, we can have a host of guys that take advantage of mismatches if teams try to focus on those two guys,” said Harig about his skill players on offense.
With a younger defense, Lunsford who will play corner and safety says their defensive backs need some work but have seen improvement in each practice.
“I think we look strong but I think there’s some weak points we need to work on to be better prepared for Friday nights,” said Lunsford.
Loudon kicks off their season against in-county rival Greenback on August 21, with a game-time set for 7:30 P.M.
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