MANDEVILLE, La. — After a 1-4 start to their 2020 season, the Lakeshore Titans won three straight games on their way to a fourth consecutive District 9-4A title.
The turning point came after their 34-9, week 5 loss to Westgate.
“I remember talking to the team after that game and saying if we just keep practicing this way and we just keep preparing, we’re going to be okay. We were able to make a run at district and ultimately defend the title,” says Lakeshore head football coach Craig Jones.
This fall, the Titans return 14 starters, including Quarterback Sam Willie, Wide Receiver Colby Ziegler, and a two-headed monster at running back in Michael Smith and Josh Ray.
Ray finished the 2020 season with 540 yards rushing and 7 touchdowns and will be wearing number 9 this fall.
“To be able to have those guys who can take it from anywhere, to force the defenses to have an extra defender in the box knowing the weapons that we potentially have on the outside is nice to have,” says Coach Jones.
“We’re both power backs. We can both lay the lead on somebody. And then we’ve got speed in us too. So, it’s pretty powerful,” says Lakeshore running back Josh Ray.
Much of the offensive line will be new in 2021, but the group will be led by all-state performer, Ryan Bernard.
“He’s a dynamic two-way player for us that’s going to create problems for offensive lines and then we’ve moved him to center. Him being a guy that makes all the calls and gets us where we need to be. He’s a huge piece of the puzzle,“ says Coach Jones.
Last year was the first time since 2016 the Titans football program did not have a winning season.
Head Coach Craig Jones says when he looks back, there are parallels between that club and the one he has now.
“I really feel like they remind me a lot of the team we had in 2017 where we ultimately made a run to the Superdome. But the year before in 2016 was very similar to our 2020 season with injuries and obviously Covid-19. But just the injuries in 2016 were hard for us to overcome and we wound up getting back to 500 and making it to the playoffs but we had everybody coming back. And 2017 kind of took the bull by the horns and said, we’re going to make this something special and I really feel like this team has that ability,” says Coach Jones.
The Lakeshore Titans open the 2021 regular season at home against Fontainebleau.
For the full schedule, click here.
Here are some Lakeshore Titans players talking about the upcoming fall football season: