August 11, 2017 11:10:49 AM
Scott Walters - firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor's Note: The Dispatch continues its annual look at some of the area's top players. These features will run daily through the start of the prep football regular season Aug. 17 and 18.
West Lowndes High School football coach Anthony King doesn't have a short list of positions for senior Quinshawn Lucious.
"We plan to put him at quarterback, running back, wide receiver," King said. "The thing is to try to get to his hands on every offensive snap during a game. He can make something big happen on any given play from anywhere on the field."
Lucious and rest of the Panthers will play tonight in the Okolona Jamboree. West Lowndes will play host to Caledonia at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 18, in the season opener for both teams.
After finishing 8-4 last season, more depth and better leadership from the seniors will be the keys to help West Lowndes make a deep run in the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 1A playoffs.
"We have a good team this year," Lucious said. "The expectation is to stay on our grind and to come out on top of 1A. I think we can do that. We are going to prove everybody wrong."
West Lowndes lost in the second round of the playoffs two seasons ago and was upset in the first round at home a year ago. Both of those squads included Lucious as a starter.
The mind-set for this year's team has been different and started in the offseason.
"It all started in the weight room," Lucious said. "(New assistant coach Brooks) Crabtree has us working hard in the weight room. We really have a weight and conditioning program that is legit and that will make us better. We have separated the guys who really want it during the spring and summer months.
"In 1A, you have a lot of guys that go both ways. Our conditioning will be much better. We will know who wants it the most when the season starts. Coach tells us to the fight to the end."
A two-star prospect per 247 sports, the 5-foot-11, 170-pound Lucious enters the season as the state's 30th-ranked prospect. His Division I offers include South Alabama, Jackson State, Louisiana-Lafayette, and Tulane.
Heavy praise from King makes Lucious proud. He also plans to back those words.
"It just makes you feel great when you know your teammates and your coaches are counting on you," Lucious said. "I am the leader of the team, so they should be counting on me to make plays. Offensively, we should be good. We have good speed and good size for a 1A school. My job is to lead. That is not only during games but on the practice field, weight room, anything we are doing as a team.
"It's hard to lead when you don't have a lot of seniors, so it is important we lead by example. We have a of guys that have never played a snap of varsity football. It is important to get them knowing what they are doing and to get them ready to play."
Consistency in work effort and commitment by players has been a challenge for King and his staff for several years at West Lowndes.
"It's important that your seniors are committed," King said. "The younger players look up to those guys. They react based on what they see out of the seniors. We have more depth (around 35 players) this year, and we should be a better conditioned team. Hopefully, that will pay off for us at the end of the season."
Lucious said he emphasized speed and technique in his summer work. He also has spent a lot of time studying leadership skills and trying to become a better teammate. With his senior year here, it is time to leave a mark on the program.
He attended camps at Ole Miss and Alabama during the summer to try to make it happen.
"The main thing to me is the leadership," Lucious said. "In the past, I have seen guys come and go and some were better leaders than others. You have to believe in the guys around you and you have to trust them. It is important that every player on the team knows you can win and that each player knows they have a role to play to help you win."
Follow Dispatch sports writer Scott Walters on Twitter @dispatchscott
Scott is sports copy editor and reporter