2017 PREVIEW: Lexington Aiming For State Title Contention With Experienced Group

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Photo via Hudl

 
Lexington played deep into the playoffs in 2016, winning three playoff games for the first time since 2011. The return of 16 total starters have the Eagles eyeing a repeat, and perhaps more.

Lexington’s season didn’t start out as was hoped; the Eagles were 1-2 in their first three games, a 67-7 win against Thorndale sandwiched in between a close 22-20 loss to Mart, and a 62-35 loss to Rockdale. The Eagles turned this around however, blazing through the rest of non-district and into 13-3A DII competition, claiming a district title. Lexington was unstoppable in district, scoring an average of 65.8 points per game, and allowing an average of 14.25 points against four of the five opponents.

The playoffs as we know are a different beast, this is indicative of Lexington’s postseason performance. While the Eagles scored 60-70 points per game in most of the regular season, the postseason featured more challenging contests, challenges the Eagles were prepared for however. The playoffs opened with a 32-20 win over Wallis Brazos, then a 35-6 victory over Stockdale in area. After downing a quality East Bernard team 38-35, the Eagles season unfortunately ended with a 34-29 loss to Boling.

Key Losses
RB Nic Dillon, S Ryan Garrison, WR Nathanael Clifford

Dillon grew into an effective rusher quickly for the Eagles, culminating with his senior year performance of 2,001 rushing yards and 34 touchdowns in the regular season, good enough to earn him first team all-state honors. Garrison earned honorable mention all-state on defense in 2016, and Clifford was named first team all-district at wide receiver.

Key Returners
QB Walker Hess, WR Sam Perry, DL Nate Jones

While Dillon led a potent rushing game, Hess was equally proficient in the air, setting a single-season school record in 2016 with 3,389 passing yards, along with 44 touchdowns, good enough to earn district offensive MVP honors. One of Hess’ top targets return in Perry, who recorded 751 yards receiving with 12 scores. Jones is back to lead the defense, he racked up 113 tackles last season and earned first team all-district honors on that side of the ball.

The Verdict

Lexington lost a talented rusher to graduation, but returns an equally talented quarterback; Hess has a pair of receivers to work with as well while the Eagles look for their new running back. The defense returns plenty of talent as well, especially on the line with Jones and Jaden Tucker (45 tackles, 3 FFs).

The Eagles face the same teams as last season, but with switched venues. This means Lexington will have the luxury in non-district of hosting three opponents, including the season opener against Mart. However this also means Lexington will be on the road more for district competition, hosting only Comfort and Florence. Plus, 13-3A DII returns an average of 12.4 starters this season, plenty of experience across the board which could provide an additional challenge for the Eagles.
 

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