“The season last year, it was just a perfect storm. It was not a very big senior or junior class, kids getting injured, some bad breaks, all kinds of things. It just didn't work out for them … They're ready to work and ready to get after it. Last year's over. Let's just move on and see what we can do to make today better.”
— Robert Johnson, Lee-Scott head coach
After 13 seasons with Robert Maddox leading the way, a new era has begun at Lee-Scott Academy.
Longtime Tuscaloosa Academy head coach Robert Johnson has replaced Maddox, bringing with him excitement as well as a lot of uncertainty. The summer months have allowed Maddox to watch the Warriors battle it out for starting roles as the group tries to rebuild after the program’s first winless season in 33 years.
Despite the rare hiccup, the Warriors’ performances this summer has Johnson hopeful about the year to come.
“I'm extremely pleased,” Johnson said. “Right now we've got 42 guys out here. We've had great participation and great attitudes. The kids really are working hard and putting in the effort. They're making all their workouts. If they're missing, they let me know or they come in on Saturday or Monday night and make them up. I really couldn't be more pleased.”
As far as evaluations for the upcoming offense, Johnson is focused on the group of soon-to-be seniors who grinded through a year in which the Warriors were ravaged by injury and averaged a little over seven points per contest.
Johnson is pleased with the recovery efforts of offensive lineman Riley Ketchum, who is coming off an ACL injury. He’ll be joined up front by Caleb Shepherd and Reed Wagoner, a duo who has impressed Johnson through their offseason work.
Additionally, Johnson anticipates running back Thomas Whatley, who has been dealing with a hurt hamstring, to contribute this fall.
The Warriors were forced to put inexperienced players out on the field last season. Although the results were not ideal, Johnson sees how it can prove to be a positive for his new squad in the long run.
“They had a lot of young kids playing last year,” Johnson said. “We've got a lot of kids back with some experience. We've got a lot of new kids out, too.”
When projecting what the defense — which gave up 37 points per game in 2018 — Johnson again focused on the Warriors’ senior class members.
Ketchum will be playing both ways for the Warriors on the defensive line, as is Reed Wagoner. Defensive back Cordin Pogue has impressed as well as he returns from football surgery.
Going forward, Johnson is hoping for his players to continue learning his system and terminology. It’s early in his tenure with the team, but it’ so far, so good for Johnson.
“These kids are great,” Johnson said. “So many of them are multi-sport athletes. They've put in a lot of work in soccer, baseball, basketball and the other sports. They're trying to come together as a big unit on the football field. The enthusiasm has been great.”