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Lake Minneola to eliminate distractions and focus in on goals

Hawks head coach Walter Banks wants his team to zone out the noise
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CLERMONT, FLORIDA – It’s been the tale of very contrasting seasons the last couple of years for Lake Minneola’s football program.

Lake Minneola running out to the field in 2021

Lake Minneola running out to the field in 2021

After seeing a successful playoff run in 2020 lead to the state-runner up spot in Class 6A (46-0 loss to Miami Central in state championship), the Hawks ended up going 6-4 last season and missing out on the postseason. That’s not something Lake Minneola head coach Walter Banks wants his program getting at all accustomed to, as he expects his team to zone out the distractions and get back focusing in heading into Aug. 1st practices.

“I wasn’t happy with how my kids worked out from January to the spring game,” Banks said. “It was a lack of focus and a lot of distractions. In the locker room after the spring game I told them we are not going to accept this fool’s gold because we know we didn’t work to the standard of our culture at Lake Minneola High School.”

Lake Minneola isn’t a team from that Lake County that lacks for talent, with the Hawks bringing back one of the most experienced rosters this summer/fall. When it comes to seeing all the constant movement of players all around the state of Florida, Banks doesn’t pay too much attention to it as the Hawks’ head coach believes its something that’s out of his control.

Lake Mineola head coach Walter Banks will dig deep into the playbook in order to get his offense rolling in 2022.

Lake Mineola head coach Walter Banks will dig deep into the playbook in order to get his offense rolling in 2022.

“That’s something we can’t control so we don’t even think about it,” Banks said. “I challenge them to work like the teams before them this summer and to eliminate distractions.”

Leading the defense at Lake Minneola is going to be Purdue commitment Ethan Cole, who also had college offers from Indiana, Minnesota, Appalachian State and Austin Peay. The hard hitting safety made 21 tackles and batted down four passes in 2021, with even higher expectations set for this season. Joining him on defense is linebacker Dylan Thomaselli and fellow defensive back Quentin Taylor.

On offense for the Hawks, they bring back 2021 starting quarterback Quinn Niemann, who dazzled in the spring jamboree against Orange Park and Ocoee. Versus the two schools, Niemann completed 24-of-27 passes for 300 yards and four touchdowns. 

The 6-foot-2, 200-pound signal caller is expected to have himself a big 2022 campaign under center and his top target will be wide receiver Braylon Knauth, who holds an offer from Florida Atlantic. Others to watch for on offense is running back John Celestine, wide receiver Jonah Cali and offensive lineman Noah Devine leads the way up front as a sophomore.

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“To eliminate all distractions and to get better every play and every day,” is what Banks said he wants his team to accomplish this season. “The rest will take care of itself.”

Andy Villamarzo can be reached at andyvillamarzo@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @Andy_Villamarzo.