No. 8 small school: Lutheran South hopes to build on state semifinal run
For the first time in 33 years, the Lutheran South football team is a defending district champion.
Take a moment and let that marinate.
During those three-plus decades, there were many valleys and few peaks for the Lancers. They were the perennial doormat in the ABC League and its current reincarnation as the Metro League. There were winless seasons. There were seasons so painful it was a fight just to get to the end.
Those times have passed.
Behind a strong senior class that reset the mindset of the program, Lutheran South finished 9-4, won a district championship and advanced to the Class 3 state semifinals to equal the high-water mark the program reached twice before.
With a strong core of players returning and the experience of a lengthy playoff run in its pocket, Lutheran South is the No. 8 small school in the STLhighschoolsports.compreseason rankings.
For the second time in three years, the Lancers have a new head coach. Derrick Colquitt was promoted to the top job after serving as the offensive coordinator last season. Colquitt replaces Jameson Allen, who spent two seasons as South's head coach.
Colquitt is well traveled in the area. He graduated University City in 2000 and played football at Lindenwood. He then coached in various roles at U. City, Normandy, Chaminade and McCluer North before making the leap to Washington University, where he coached running backs. Last season was his first with Lutheran South. He thinks the best is yet to come.
“This is the first time the seniors have had the same system for two years,” Colquitt said.
It will also be his second season with senior quarterback Vito Orlando (6-foot-2, 185 pounds). A three-year starter who saw spot time as a freshman, Orlando threw for 2,393 yards, 30 touchdowns and was intercepted 12 times last season. He rushed for 358 yards and five touchdowns, too.
Colquitt said he and Orlando clicked early in their relationship last season and that bond has only grown stronger. Orlando's ability to read a defense and make adjustments have improved with time. He and Colquitt are on the same page more often than not.
“He's so comfortable at the line,” Colquitt said. “He knows how to lead and we're looking for big things from him this year.”
Orlando will have to fill some of the leadership role that had previously been held by the now-graduated Cody Schrader. A two-way standout at Lutheran South, Schrader led the team in rushing yards (1,778), touchdowns (28) and was second in tackles (110) despite missing time due to a concussion last fall. Life will be different without their workhorse, but the Lancers return a strong group that saw how Schrader handled his business.
The offensive line returns five guys who saw significant time either last season or the season before. Junior left tackle Jacob Taylor (6-1, 275) was a first-team all-conference selection and a dominant presence even as an underclassman.
“He's definitely one of the anchors,” Colquitt said.
Senior left guard Jake Sherrill (6-3, 330), senior center Seth Day, senior right guard A'ron Washington (6-1, 215) and senior right tackle Caden Ritter fill out the offensive line.
Senior receiver Derrick Scott (6-3, 160) caught 24 passes for 375 yards and five scores. A four-year starter, he also will play in the defensive backfield where he had three interceptions last season.
Junior cornerback Jabari Harris (5-10, 150) had 45 tackles last season.
Washington had 85 tackles and 10 sacks last season at linebacker. He'll be joined by junior David Howard (5-10, 175) and sophomore Cam Offerman (5-9, 160).
Sophomore defensive end Cam Weiler (6-3, 200) had eight tackles for loss and four sacks while starting as a freshman.
Senior Joseph Schmid (5-10, 165) and Orlando will see time at safety.
Since Lutheran South committed resources to bettering its football program in 2011, expectations have been raised. Now the Lancers have the players who achieved some of those goals and know what it's going to take to sustain success.
“A lot of these guys were involved in the run last year. They saw the work,” Colquitt said. “They're ready