Laney eyes playoffs

Laney quarterback Leo Myers went to five passing league camps to prepare for the 2010 season.

Laney was so young in 2009 that many players didn't know the playbook, junior quarterback Leo Myers said.


Those freshmen and sophomores now have a year of experience under their belts. And after last year's 5-5 campaign, the Wildcats are back and looking to make postseason play again.

"We are hungry," Myers said.

After missing the playoffs for the first time since 1999, Laney is looking to make it back with a team that suffered growing pains. The Wildcats lost pivotal region games to Vidalia and Swainsboro despite trailing by six or fewer points in the fourth quarter of each game.

"When we came back from the offseason, we were ahead of the game mentally," fourth-year Laney coach Lemuel Lackey said. "The kids returning know the system better."

The team will depend on the maturity of players such as Myers, who attended five passing league camps during the summer.

"He's had a good summer," Lackey said. "I think he's taken control of the offense a little more."

Laney returns eight offensive starters, including four linemen. In the backfield, five players will platoon at running back.

"Everybody's committed on the offensive line," senior center Carlton Forrest said. "I feel like we've got a good chance."

Myers will team up with senior wideout Rod Hall (6-foot-2, 205) to help fuel the Wildcats' high-octane spread attack. Hall provided several highlight-reel catches en route to 705 yards on 42 receptions last season.

In 2009, Laney's defense allowed 20 or more points in seven contests. The Wildcats return six starters on defense.

"Defense is phenomenal," Forrest said. "I told them we're not giving up that many points."

With region realignment, Laney has room to breathe and rekindle a pair of rivalries this season. The past two years, the Wildcats played 10-game region schedules and were forced to suspend its annual rivalry game with Josey. This year, Laney opens at Strom Thurmond before playing host to the Eagles the following week.

"I think Josey is going to test us because they're our rival," Lackey said. "Strom Thurmond is just a solid, well-coached team."

Laney Wildcats

COACH: Lemuel Lackey (fourth season)




LAST YEAR: 5-5. Missed playoffs for first time since 1999 season.

STARTERS BACK: 8 offense, 6 defense

KEY RETURNERS: WR Rod Hall (Sr., 6-2, 205), QB Leo Myers (Jr., 6-1, 215), OL/DL Fred Nelson Jr. (Jr., 6-2, 280), RB George Myers, C/DT Carlton Forrest (Sr., 6-2, 288)

KEY GAMES: at Strom Thurmond, Aug. 27; Josey, Sept. 3; at Jefferson County, Sept. 17; Dublin, Oct. 8; at Swainsboro, Nov. 5

GLASS HALF FULL: The Wildcats went through a youth movement in 2009. Now, Laney has 14 returning starters.

GLASS HALF EMPTY: Laney plays in one of the tougher regions in Class AA with the likes of Dublin, Jefferson County and Swainsboro. Offense should be solid with the one-two punch of Hall and Myers, but can the defense stop anybody?



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