It's not very often a high school coach gets to take over with the cabinets at least half full, but new Lincoln Southeast head coach Ryan Gottula will get just that. The Knights quarterbacks and defensive backs coach since 2008, Gottula replaces John Larsen who was with the program for over 35 years.
"Obviously I'm very excited to take over a program that has a very strong tradition. We obviously think we have some very good players in our program, but we did lose some Division 1 players in Derrius Vick (Ohio) and Daniel Sutton (Nebraska).
"We feel like we have good depth within our program. If you look at the past couple of years, throughout the program, we have been very successful."
The Knights have went 19-4 in the past two seasons and will once again feature multiple D-1 prospects in the 2012 class.
"He's got great work ethic, as you can tell good size, and really good speed. He's going to be able to do some really good things for us in the fall," said Gottula. "He's got great hands and is a good route runner. He's just really going have to expand his role on both sides of the ball this season."
While Cotton might be the Knights' biggest pass catching threat, it will be the lines up front that make or break the season.
"I feel like the strength of the team next year will be our offensive and defensive lines. We feel like we should be pretty strong up front," said Gottula. "Robbie LaFour (6-foot, 275 pounds) was a guy who was an All-Stater last year. He's a guy we will count on this year at center. He's been starting for us since his sophomore year."
In the backfield, Jared Cooper will return after leading Lincoln Southeast in rushing. The 6-foot, 170 pound back has home-run speed.
The Knights will also feature 2010 All-Conference performer Dylan Dragoo (6-foot-1, 180 pounds) on offense and in the secondary. After earning Honorable Mention All-State honors last year at defensive back, Dragoo will get full-time work at receiver. Last year, he only caught six balls for 81 yards.
"I'm excited to get going," said Gottula. "I will continue to to coach the quarterbacks and I have experience as a play-caller and coordinator."
Look for more local area high school team previews in the coming weeks.