SHINNSTON, W.Va. – The Lincoln Cougars went .500 last season with the games they were able to play during the odd season due to the pandemic. Although the Cougars graduated some big names from that roster, eight-year head coach Rob Hawkins said what they do return is a huge positive.
“We had a lot of young kids who did get to play last year, we have a lot of returners. We were lucky enough to have some depth last year so even the guys that we’re missing, we’re going to be able to fill right in with some guys with experience,” Hawkins said. “That’s one positive we have, we’re not going to have to force freshmen and sophomores on the field.”
Another positive is the Cougars’ skill positions. Junior QB Nick Kellar is expected to be a dual threat and his weapons are plentiful.
Explosive running back duo in juniors Antwan Hilliard and Levi Moore return with experience on both sides of the ball.
“They’ve basically been starting in the backfield together since halfway through their freshman year and both of them start at linebacker so those two guys we feel like that’s probably our most experienced position,” Hawkins said.
“Once I get the ball he cheers on for me and once he gets the ball I cheer on for him, we’re not really selfish with each other,” Moore said.
Hawkins is excited about his receiving core as well and they’re ready to make the plays needed to win some ball games.
“This year I think we need to just need to really be aggressive on offense, throw the ball a lot. We have a lot of great running backs on the team. I think me and Gorby and Jace need to really step up as receivers this year and make some big plays for us,” Westin Heldreth, senior receiver, said.
But for the offense to be successful, the line needs some work first. But Hawkins is confident they’ll be able to connect quickly.
“They did lose several starters but these guys are veterans, they’re juniors and seniors so we’re counting on them to gel quick so our offensive weapons have a chance,” Hawkins said.
The goal is simply stated for the Cougs- Establish the run on offense and stop the run on defense. They’ll put that to the test in their first game of the season against Braxton County on Friday, August 27.