The Lee County football team lost 42 seniors off last season’s team, including 20 who will be playing in college this fall, but expectations remain high for the two-time defending Class AAAAAA champion.
The heavy graduation losses don’t present a problem unfamiliar to the program. Last year, the Trojans had to replace 41 seniors off the first state championship team in school history. They proceeded to go out and post a 15-0 record (not including a 43-14 loss to St. Frances Academy of Maryland in a postseason bowl game) and repeat as champions in the state’s second-highest classification.
Now, as Lee County goes through offseason training in preparation for spring practice in little more than a month, the Trojans are optimistic about the upcoming season.
“We are embracing the high expectations but stressing that each year’s team is a new team,” Trojans coach Dean Fabrizio said. “These kids have learned from the ones that have come before them and want to uphold the standard that has been set here at Lee County. … We have a lot of players in our program. Last year, we had 11 seniors that have been in our program since middle school and hadn’t gotten any significant playing time start for us. All of them had great years. We have only lost one JV game over the past six seasons, and we have a lot of kids that haven’t played a whole lot that are ready to step up and make a name for themselves.”
Lee County loses eight starters from a defense that led Class AAAAAA last season, allowing just 5.1 points per game and holding 13 of 15 opponents to seven points or less, including six shutouts. The most points the Trojans gave up came in playoff victories against Mundy’s Mill (46-13 in the first round) and Creekview (42-20 in the quarterfinals). Among the names to be replaced are Class AAAAAA defensive player of the year Jammie Robinson (defensive back, signed with South Carolina) and first-team all-state selection lineman Anthony Harvey (Albany State). The top returnee is junior middle linebacker Baron Hopson, the team’s leading tackler last season.
The Trojans return six starters on offense, including quarterback Kyle Toole, who passed from more than 3,000 yards as a junior in his first season as a starter. Kicker Austin Beaver, a three-year starter, also returns.
“Kyle is coming off a season in which he threw for 34 TDs and only two interceptions,” Fabrizio said. “He has a host of good skill position players around him, starting with rising junior Chauncey Magwood. Chauncey had over 1,000 yards receiving as a sophomore last season. James Hopson, Preston Simmons, Marlon Brown and host of other talented skill kids return. We lost four starters along the offensive line but return DI prospect and three-year starter Parker Rogers.”
Lee County’s spring practice begins May 5 and concludes with an intrasquad scrimmage on May 17. The Trojans begin the regular season Aug. 24 against Dougherty in the Hamp Smith Classic at Albany State. Other highlights of the schedule include a matchup with Life Christian Academy of Virginia (Aug. 30) and the usual rugged four-game run through Region 1 in the last four weeks of the regular season.
“We lost a lot of really good players from last year’s team,” Fabrizio said. “That is the nature of high school football, though. Kids graduate and young ones develop and step up. We have a lot of kids working very hard this offseason and are ready to step up and uphold the standard that has been set by the groups that came before them.”
Lee County’s 2019 Schedule
Aug. 24: vs. Dougherty, 7 p.m. (at Albany State)
Aug. 30: vs. Life Christian Academy, Va., 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 6: at Peach County, 8 p.m.
Sept. 13: vs. Americus-Sumter, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 20: vs. Southwest-Macon, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 4: vs. Thomson, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 18: vs. *Northside-Warner Robins, 7:30 p.m.
Oct 25: at *Valdosta, 8 p.m.
Nov. 1: at *Houston County, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 8: vs. *Coffee, 7:30 p.m.
*Region 1-AAAAAA game
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