St. Tammany 2022 football preview: Senior Sam Willie returns from knee injury to lead Lakeshore | St. Tammany Community News

Lakeshore senior quarterback Sam Willie knows the date all too well – September 17, 2021.

That night, the then-junior tore his ACL in a game against Northshore.

“It was very difficult. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done (during rehabilitation). But I put in the work. I was able to show my determination and come back the fastest possible. I’m ready for my senior season,” Willie said.

“I was very lucky to have a great team behind me with my rehab team. It’s been nine months since surgery, and now I’m completely healed. It’s great. It’s a big relief. J “I feel like I can breathe again. I can go out and not worry about hurting my knee.”

Willie (6-1, 185) had to wait a month after the injury for his MCL to heal before successfully undergoing reconstructive ACL surgery. Now he is fully powered and ready to lead the Titans.

Lakeshore went through several changes during his absence. First, nine-year-old coach Craig Jones — only the second coach in program history — left to return to his alma mater, Mandeville. Then the Titans hired Brent Indest, who has 23 years of head coaching experience and a state championship, to replace him.

Wing-T specialist Indest features a clean 180 from the Titans’ spread offense, but Willie said the transition has been positive.

“It’s different, but we’re definitely figuring it out,” Willie said. “We’re going to be able to attack different things that we’ve never attacked before. And we’re going to be able to hit defenses in a way that they’ve never seen before.”

It’s not only a new system that Willie and the entire Titans will have to master, but it’s also a new way of doing things, like taking snaps under center.

“I grew up playing under center and all that so it’s just getting used to taking that shot again. Other than that I just have to learn some new footwork but I’m just in playing again. We’re going to go out there and be ball players and make plays. I’m excited about the season,” Willie said.

The eldest said he was able to start learning about the new offense a few months earlier, thanks to the luxury of a contactless jersey. It was a significant head start for an offense that will be in transition this season.

Senior Colby Ziegler (6-0, 200) is back and will be a crucial part of the attack. The receiver will line up at tailback in the Wing-T, so he’ll run and catch the ball this season. Junior Jaden Wells (6-1, 185) will also be a key ball player.

With four starters back on the offensive line, Indest said the Titans have a great base to start this season on, but there’s still plenty to work on.

“I like where our strength is. I don’t like where our speed is. We’ve got a good size. We’re definitely a smart football team. We threw a lot at them and they were very responsive.” said Indest. “On both sides of the ball we have to lower our level of pad for what we’re trying to do and the way we do things. It’s different from the past.”

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Defensively, the Titans’ strength will be their linebackers. All three starters from last season are back, along with senior defensive end Antoine Labostrie.

Senior linebacker James Geeslin said the changes have been positive.

“It’s something a bit different, but it will work out eventually. Everyone has been working to improve. We’re changing formation in defense, and it’s going well. I don’t expect anything from other than getting another district championship. I think everyone is attacking well and able to execute the game plan,” Geeslin said.

Senior center linebacker Braeden Peterson agreed.

“Everyone on the D-line and the linebackers is a returning player. A high school group is back, so I think we’ll be experienced this year. We really picked up everything they threw at us, and we “I execute it 100%. We are excited about the new system,” Peterson said.

“It’s more of a team of discipline coaches. The last team was more laid back. Indest is a discipline coach. If you don’t do it his way he will let you know because you have to do it the right way .”

Willie added that the new Titans head coach is measured in everything he says.

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“He gets straight to the point, but that’s a good thing. We’re getting closer and closer. It builds relationships, and it feels like a family, and that’s what you need to be successful. “, said Willie.

Peterson said Willie’s return would help on both sides of the ball.

“Sam (Willie) is a great leader on this team. If you don’t do something the right way he’ll let you know, so Sam’s comeback is huge,” he said.

The Titans will compete in the new-look District 8-4A, which adds Loranger and Hannan this season. Adding two teams means two more chances for one team to end Lakeshore’s winning streak.

Despite several changes this offseason, expectations remain high for the Titans, who have won 49 games over the past five seasons, including a state championship appearance in 2017. Add to that a 17-game winning streak that has produced five consecutive district crowns, and Peterson said expectations haven’t changed.

“We’re just going to keep doing what we’ve been doing. We’re going to keep winning and we’re doing everything we can to make it happen,” he said.

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