Lincoln Trojans Focusing on Execution, Depth
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook Staff Writer
Standing on a soaking wet Lincoln High School football practice field, drenched from an unexpected afternoon storm, coach Yusuf Shakir was stoic.
His every word was firm too, as he beseeched a group of players to focus on blocking and tackling.
“Close the space, man,” he bellowed, as the players tried to execute.
Not every execution was perfect, but Shakir seemed patient, realizing that it’s early in preseason camp.
“You all did a good job,” he said. “There you go.”
He moved onto another group. Not all of the players are starters. He wanted second-string and third-string players as well to get the drill down pat.
For good reason. Last season, he found himself calling on his reserves during the closing weeks of the season after an outbreak of flu among his players cut into his roster that was already affected by several injuries.
“It was devastating because you want to have continuity going into the end of the season,” Shakir said. “You want to be fine-tuning so the injuries hurt us as far as having consistency and a rhythm going into the playoffs.”
If the Trojans get that far this season they’ll do so with a squad that has newcomers at almost every position on offense and defense. But while they might be short on experience, Shakir insisted that they have the talent to help the Trojans finish better than last year’s 8-3 record when they made a school record 19th consecutive postseason appearance.
“The talented kids can get experience,” he said. “When you just have experience, you can’t give them more talent so we are very excited about the group that I have.”
Especially those on the offensive and defensive lines. Lincoln has a history of producing teams that have a reputation of winning in the trenches. This year is no different, Shakir said.
A big part of that is the success of the offensive line keeping quarterback Chris Brimm upright. Brimm, a junior, will be in his second season under center.
The line that will protect him will have just one new player, who left tackle Casey Warming said is already developing chemistry with the rest of the unit. As part of becoming a tighter unit, they’ve spent plenty of time socializing and building a brotherhood, Warming said.
As left tackle, who protects Brimm’s blind side, Warming has perhaps the most important role on the line. He relishes it.
“It’s an honor to block for a quarterback like Chris,” said Warming, adding that he and Brimm have developed a friendship that goes beyond being teammates. “He’s one of the better quarterbacks I’ve ever seen. We take it very seriously as an offensive line.”
And, no one is allowed to slack. The ones who do get called out, he said.
“We want everyone performing the best they could possibly perform,” Warming said. “If coach doesn’t step in when they mess up, I will be the first to let them know.”
The defensive line has taken the same attitude.
“We have to make sure everybody comes every day ready to practice, ready to get focused and make sure everybody is on the same page,” said Grant Hodges, a senior defensive lineman. “We are trying to win a championship and we can’t do that if everybody isn’t on the same page. We’ve got to be ready to make sacrifice.”