Ruskin, May 30, 2018 – “We’re over the honeymoon phase, the strength of the team is our O-line and run game; gotten bigger, faster, stronger, and kids are buying into our process with a chip on their shoulder, we’re on the rise- people are going to pay attention.” ~ Head Coach Matt Kitchie, Lennard Longhorns.
There’s a new-found competitive energy and mindset in the air coming from the Longhorn’s football program even with the winless 0-10 2017 record looming in the shadows. The upcoming 2020 junior class specifically is setting the promise bar high with their positive spirits and work ethic, adding to the blueprint for success with soon-to-be productive offensive weapons residing at the front line and behind them in the backfield. Coach Kitchie and his self-motivated unit are sharpening their horns at the challenge of a hard-earned winning 2018 season with a fresh scent of purpose.
“The exciting thing is 2020 class, last year was my first year here and we had transfers before I arrived, but I came in with high hopes and had kind of a disappointing season, even though on the field it was disappointing, these 2020 kids and some freshmen got a lot of play time. The most amazing thing happened in January, we had an incredible buy-in; 40+ kids showed up and they all came together. We have eight guys playing O-line and seven are starters- Tuesday and Thursday they run 2 miles AFTER workouts, so for some reason everything was coming into place starting in the spring,” HC Kitchie states.
From the sounds of it, these guys have their hearts fully invested in this year’s team, learning and building a foundation from past mistakes, and in high school the aspect of self-improvement and playing competitively for the love of the game is especially important, also taking the 40-man roster into account, these guys have to play two or more positions to keep up with their rivals who have healthier depth. The stand out strength of this organization does truly lie in the offensive line where size matters- fortunately for them, nearly every starter creates a wall standing at least 6’ tall and 250+ pounds!
Coach Matt Kitchie goes on to explain, “I was at Leto High for 6 years and we won 1 game. This is kid driven, they’re believing different, and Lennard has only had 2 winning seasons in this 11-year span the schools been up for, so this 2020 class really wants to change how the Longhorns look.
Our running back Tino Hunt is going to shock people, and I witnessed them all coming together in spring game vs Riverview, he had 85 yards rushing on 9 carries! There were times last year we didn’t have that many total yards IN A GAME. He’s worked his butt off, both in the weight room and with his grades- he benefitted from being back at his home school, after going to Tampa Bay Tech his first 2 years. January of his sophomore year, he came back to Lennard, and his work ethic is amazing.
When we run the ball effectively, the passing game will improve, and there will be less stress on Tino, last year our thing was that we couldn’t sustain drives, defense would have a great game but would be worn out from being on the field so much.
“We’re preaching just to compete- in the classroom on the field, I think it’s an attitude that spreads quickly- to compete in a positive manner. In High school it’s the luck of the draw, but we have a tremendous group of kids right now, and our slogan for season is #Wewillrise, so each time we play, we want to be above where we were. Football is starting to get very competitive around here, we play competitive games and the kids are fun to be around, and that really bleeds into the direction our program is going.”
Vaughan Sixbury, BCP Contributor