By Brock Sisney (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
LOCKWOOD — The Lockwood Tigers have a new head coach but a familiar name in Clay Lasater.
Lasater served as Lockwood head coach for 13 seasons before stepping down prior to the 2017 season to become the district’s superintendent.
Lasater’s replacement Luke Rader, a 2003 Lockwood graduate, stepped down after three seasons and headed to Stockton.
Now, Lasater has returned as Lockwood head coach in 2020.
“We have had a good summer and feel like we have improved our strength, conditioning, and our understanding of the game,” Lasater said. “I am excited to see if we can make some of this hard summer work pay off on Friday nights. A key for us this fall will be staying healthy. As a small school with an enrollment under 100 we will be low on numbers. With low numbers, we will have a lot of guys playing both ways and will need to stay healthy. So far this summer we have not had many impacts due to COVID-19 and we hope that we continue to stay healthy and are able to play football on Friday nights.”
Lockwood does return some experience this year.
“We will be returning seven starters and 12 players total who played varsity time last year,” Lasater said. “With Coach Rader moving on to Stockton, we have worked hard this summer getting accustomed to some changes in offensive and defensive scheme. We have had several guys working really hard and improving individually and collectively as a team.”
Lockwood (7-4 last season) opens its 2020 season on the road against Southwest Conference rival Pierce City, traditionally one of the most formidable Class 1 schools in the area. The Eagles finished 11-1 last season and have three straight 10-win seasons.
The Missouri Football Coaches Association issued a press release July 14 that recommended teams keep all activities, practices, and scrimmages in-house and to avoid interaction with other teams. Also, the MFCA recommended the elimination of the jamborees traditionally held the week before the start of the season.
Pierce City will be a tough way to break in new systems.
Offensively, Lockwood will be led by 6-foot-3, 195-pound senior quarterback Max Schnelle, a dual-threat quarterback with two years of varsity starting quarterback experience under him.
“Max will be asked to really carry the load this year as all the decisions will run through him,” Lasater said. “He is a very intelligent and hard-working kid, but his biggest strength is in making good decisions with the football and making everyone around him better. Max ran and threw for right at 1,000 yards each last fall and we hope that he can exceed both of those numbers in 2020.”
Schnelle will also be a key player defensively at his safety position.
Other returning offensive starters are fullback Lane Dunlap (5-foot-10, 185 pounds), running back Jamie Kramer (5-10, 160), receiver Blaine Garver, and offensive linemen Spencer Neal (6-2, 220 left guard), Reese Fyfe (5-10, 275 center), and Eli Friend (6-4, 270 right tackle), all seniors.
Defensively, Dunlap enters his third season as starting middle linebacker and he made just under 100 tackles last year.
Other returning defensive starters are senior defensive tackle Gabe Bench (6-1, 180) and junior cornerback Landon Stump (5-9, 160).
Top newcomers both offensively and defensively are senior guard Quinten Raymond (5-9, 230), senior tackle Brayden Hamilton (6-5, 280), senior receiver Dylan Gallup (6-3, 195), junior tight end Gabe Price (5-10, 180), junior tackle Clayton Robertson (5-10, 165), sophomore receiver Eli Kerr (5-8, 155), junior receiver Kane Cooper (6-3, 190), junior receiver Colby Nelson (6-1, 160), sophomore safety Joel Trollinder (6-0, 155), sophomore center Blake Cossins (5-10, 180), and sophomore tackle Kameron Burton (6-1, 230).
“Our strength this fall is we have a lot of players returning with varsity experience,” Lasater said. “Our depth will be a concern due to low numbers.”