FLS Varsity brings you the scores, stats and stories from Fredericksburg-area high school sports.
Three questions: Louisa
Coach: Jon Meeks (third season)
Last year’s record: 4-6
Last playoff season: 2011
IN HIS THIRD YEAR, WHAT HAS MEEKS LEARNED ABOUT BEING A HEAD COACH?
The biggest change for Meeks this fall will be a return to what he knows best: defense.
He was the defensive coordinator for former Lions coach Mark Fischer. But when Meeks became the head coach, he also assumed the play calling duties.
“Calling offense is fun, but I think at the end of the day, I didn’t want to; I felt like I needed to,” Meeks said. “Everyone knows Fisher did such a great job. I wanted that pressure on me, and not someone I hired.”
This offseason, Meeks fired himself and turned the offense over to long-time assistant Will Patrick.
The change goes deeper than just who calls plays. Louisa this fall will move away from the single-wing attack and run a more pro-style offense. Meeks said the change better suits the personnel Louisa has now, and what he expects the Lions will have in the next few years.
Meeks will return to calling plays on the other side of the ball.
“I got the job because I called the defense,” he said, “and we had a pretty decent group for a few years there. So I’m pretty happy to go back to that side of the ball.”
Meeks will still have input on the offensive side, and said he’ll pick a spot or two to dial up the play he wants.
“I’m trying to look for the big play, the home run,” Meeks said. “I’m hoping to call maybe one play per quarter, and no more. I want to let [Patrick] do his thing.”
QUARTERBACK ZAC JACKSON ACCOUNTED FOR NEARLY 80 PERCENT OF THE LOUISA OFFENSE LAST YEAR. HOW CAN THE LIONS HOPE TO REPLACE THAT?
With a lineup decimated by injuries – 16 starters missed at least one game in 2012 – the now-graduated Jackson was a workhorse last fall.
He rushed for 1,016 yards with 17 touchdowns–fifth in the area in rushing yards and first in rushing touchdowns. He threw for 1,107 yards–the most of any quarterback since Meeks joined the Louisa staff in 2005.
How do the Lions replace all that offense?
“Not from any one player,” Meeks said. “We’re going to spread the rock around. It won’t be any one person carrying the load.”
Trey Cherry will be the new quarterback. He’s not as powerful a runner as Jackson, but Meeks thinks he’s better in the open field. And the Louisa coaches have been pleasantly surprised by Cherry’s passing.
Though it won’t be the single-wing, there will still be a rotation of ball carriers.
Markel Groomes will start as No. 1 – he rushed for 554 yards last year on just 103 carries, and Meeks thinks he could be primed for a big season.
WE’RE NOW TWO YEARS REMOVED FROM THE LOUISA EARTHQUAKE THAT LITERALLY RUINED THE SCHOOL AND DISRUPTED THE FOOTBALL TEAM. HOW DO THE LIONS CONTINUE TO ADAPT TO THAT?
One can’t miss the impact the earthquake has had on the school.
Meeks spoke to FLS Varsity not from a brick-walled classroom, but from the village of trailers Louisa now calls its high school.
And the building that housed those brick-walled classes? It’s not even there anymore. The old school has been torn down and ground will be broken on the new school Wednesday.
“I’m not going to lie: I wish the new building was here next week,” Meeks said. “But it is what it is.”
It’s the little things the Lions miss most. Extra travel time for practice. Not having a gym to work in on rainy days. A weight room too small to accommodate the entire team at once.
“It’s the little things … minor inconveniences,” Meeks said. “But we’ve got everything we need. We just have to work around schedules and different logistics.”