Lovejoy junior Kevin Morris-Strong is expected to play a big role in the Wildcats’ offense this season. He has started to receive college scholarship offers. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)
HAMPTON — As winter fades into spring, most look ahead to graduation, summer vacation and relaxing after a long school year.
However, at Lovejoy, the beginning of spring means that it’s time to strap up the pads again and prepare for the upcoming football season in the fall. After two consecutive state championship appearances during the 2011 and 2012 seasons, and a top-20 state finish last season, the Wildcats have established themselves as state powerhouses in Class AAAAAA.
Two players that will be vital in continuing the success of the program this season are running back Kevin Morris-Strong and wide receiver Tremaine Dillard.
During their junior seasons, Morris-Strong and Dillard played key roles in the Wildcats offense, Morris totaled 21 catches, 363 yards and four touchdowns as the team’s main receiving option out of the backfield.
Dillard added 16 catches, 260 yards and two touchdowns, now with their final campaigns approaching, they’re ready to take an even bigger step under first-year head coach Edgar Carson.
“I would say that Kevin and Tremaine are two of the most talented guys we have,” said fellow junior receiver Preston Williams. Williams, who is committed to Tennessee, is one of the top-rated receivers in the nation and is a 2015 Under Armor All-American.
“Kevin keeps the offense balanced, and Tremaine is like our dirty work guy who opens up chances for everyone, then as a result he gets open and makes plays also,” Williams said. “It works out for everybody.”
The talent that Morris-Strong and Dillard have displayed on the field has garnered the interest of college scouts as well; Morris has offers from Georgia State and Charlotte while Dillard has gained offers from East Carolina, Indiana, Richmond, Illinois and Marshall.
Morris-Strong will wait out the recruiting process and commit after the season, Dillard on the other hand, will commit in the next few weeks. With multiple offers and high praise and rankings means that Morris and Dillard have become team leaders, something they take great pride in.
“I consider myself one of the main leaders on the team, whether it be by vocals or by my actions,” Dillard said. “If that means I need to put someone in check then I’ll do it, I let my play do the talking. The main thing I pass down to them is that if they go hard all the time and want it enough then whatever they want will come.”
As spring practice closes Friday with its annual spring game, it’s unclear of the exact changes that the offense will experience, but early indications show that it will mimic the fast-paced style seen in college ball by teams like Auburn and Oregon.
“We’ll be going 100 mph for the entire game; we’re trying to get a play off every 15 seconds, and it’s going to be a very exciting offense” Morris-Strong said. “I’ll be running and catching out of the backfield and with Tremaine and Preston as our leading receivers, it will be extremely difficult for opposing coaches to game plan for us.”
Morris-Strong, Dillard and the rest of the team won’t have much time to take a rest following the conclusion of spring ball. It will be straight into summer conditioning/camp in preparation for the season opener in late August. Both Morris and Dillard strongly emphasized the team will accept nothing less than a perfect record and a state title.
“When you’re at Lovejoy that’s always the expectation, and we’re ready for the challenge” Morris said. “We have all of the weapons and pieces we need to get it done, it’s on us to put it all together and do it.”