Zebras can contribute in more ways than one

By: Cecil Conley, Sports Editor
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Mike Thompson did not have much time to catch his breath after his interception return for a touchdown last Friday night. He remained on the field for Lincoln High School’s ensuing kickoff. Even the senior defensive end has to play on special teams. And he is not the only starter to do so. Head coach Ken Lowe realizes the risks in using special teams as an opportunity to play the reserves. As much as he wants to get those players some action, he has to think of the team first. That explains why Thompson contributed to kickoff coverage after his interception return gave the Zebras a 28-20 lead late in the second quarter of their homecoming game against Wheatland. “You always want to have your best players on the field,” said Lowe, whose Zebras will return to the road Friday when they travel to Jackson for their nonleague finale against Argonaut. Thompson finally got a break last Friday night at halftime. He took another breather in the fourth quarter with the Zebras on their way to a 42-28 victory, which improved their record to 3-1. Lowe is also mindful of asking too much of his starters. He only has a handful of players contribute on both offense and defense for that very reason. Oscar Fernandez is a perfect example. The senior running back will occasionally play defensive back, but Lowe prefers to keep Fernandez’s legs fresh for carrying the ball. He will spell Fernandez on defense as much as possible. “By the fourth quarter, it can really take a toll,” Lowe said. Marty Morris, Tyler Morgan, David Silchuk, Aldo Aguilar and Mike Holt all pull shifts of double duty. High school football is becoming more sophisticated with fewer and fewer players going both ways. Lowe said as offensive and defensive schemes have become more complex, coaches can no longer expect the players to digest so much assignment information from one week to the next. “The playbook is getting better, and the defensive playbook is growing, too,” Lowe said. “There are seven to 10 adjustments we can make with our base defense, and that’s just our base defense.” NOTES: Senior center Travis Bakken’s status could be a game-time decision, Lowe said. Bakken sprained his right ankle in the fourth quarter against Wheatland. “The problem is it’s a high ankle sprain,” Lowe said. Junior Joe Little will start is Bakken is unable to go. Reserve lineman Zach Little took one for the team last Friday when he gave his No. 66 jersey to Anthony Latu after the senior nose tackle’s No. 44 jersey was torn. “That was a great thing for him to do,” Lowe said. “(Little) is the ultimate team player.”