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The Piners have had a stunt in their growth process in turning things around at Lakewood High School over the past few seasons and it's been a struggle to turn things in a positive direction.

Lakewood has been one of at least a few Shore Conference schools fighting a roster crunch in terms of having any kind of depth with a decline in players coming out for the team.

Could this be the season the Lakewood Piners make significant strides and return to the winning that this program has had in the past?

It's one of the challenges facing head coach L.J. Clark.

"We're just trying to gain a little bit of respectability back and be competitive," Clark tells Shore Sports Network. "The last couple of years have not been what we wanted whereas the first couple of years (when he first started coaching in Lakewood) we were in the playoffs for six-straight years, so we're just trying to get back to the playoffs and be competitive in the division."

There has been some more turnover on the roster as well, like for every team every year, due to graduation.

It's affecting Lakewood in a unique way after the Piners graduated players including Andre Peace, Lamir Clark, and Jaylen London.

"Lamir being a three-year starter at center, Andre being a four-year starter -- losing any type of experience like that always hurts but we have a big senior class who's been playing early, and we've got some basketball players out for the team, so they should be able to fill some spots," Clark said. "The initial excitement is good, as long as we can stay healthy, that's the thing."

They have a lot of seniors on this team, and, if they can stay healthy and elevate their game, the Piners will post some wins in 2022.

"We're just trying to get back, we're instilling to the seniors that you could be the class to put us back in the playoffs," Clark said. "How do you want to leave your mark on history?"

Left to right: Derrick Marsh (5), Jayvon Gonzalez (3), Alexis Torres (53), Keyon Tims (11).
Left to right: Derrick Marsh (5), Jayvon Gonzalez (3), Alexis Torres (53), Keyon Tims (11).
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At A Glance

Projected Starters

Offense: Power Spread

QB: Jayvon Gonzalez, Sr., RS

RB: Keyon Tims, Sr., RS

RB: Edgar Silva, Sr.

WR: Derrick Marsh, Sr.

WR: Zyhmier Anderson, Jr.

LT: Jamir Rivera, Sr.

LG: Alexis Torres, Sr. RS

C: Alexis Baustia, Sr., RS

RG: Amir Enoch, Jr.

RT: Shawn Alicca, So.

Defense: 4-2-5

DE: David Dominquez, So.

DT: Frank Romero, Sr.

DT: Jamir Rivera, Sr.

DE: Alexis Torres, Sr.

OLB: Mark Barreda, Sr.

ILB: Edgar Silva-Hernandez, Sr.

OLB: Keyon Tims, Sr.

CB: Zyhmier Anderson, Jr.

CB: Anthony Tucker, Jr.

FS: Derrick Marsh, Sr.

SS: Rahmel Anderson, So.

Special Teams

K: David Dominguez, So.

P: Jayvon Gonzalez, Sr., RS

 

STAFF

Head Coach: L.J. Clark, 12th season

Career Record: 45-63

Team Record Last Five Seasons: 

2021: 1-8

2020: 2-5

2019: 2-8

2018: 1-9

2017: 6-5

Assistant Coaches: Evan Baubles (Assistant Head Coach/OC/LB); Charlie Diskin (DC/QB); Ben Pivets (WR/DB); Bob Terringo (OL/LB); John Bernaski (Freshmen); Kevin Popek (Freshmen); Tim Brown (JV).

 

Player to Watch: Jayvon Gonzalez, QB, Sr.

Yes, Jayvon Gonzalez is the returning starter behind center like he was at this point last year heading into the season, but a torn MCL took him out of playing for the Piners in 2021.

"Losing our quarterback last year kind of put a damper on our season," Clark said. "We were dealing with low numbers and didn't have a lot of depth, and you lose a key player like Jayvon, our quarterback early in the season, it was hard for us to kind of weather the storm and get it right after that."

The senior is back and healthy and ready to lead this Piners team in 2022.

"He's completely healthy, he ended up playing basketball after his surgery, he's lost some weight, he's doing everything we ask him to, and he's hungry. He wants to prove to everybody that he's one of the best players in the Shore," Clark said.

 

Player Under the Radar: Jamir Rivera, LT, Sr.

Lakewood is only returning two of its five starting lineman from last season -- Alexis Torres and Alexis Bautista -- but their fellow senior, Jamir Rivera, is someone to keep an eye on to try and stabilize the line that lost Jaylen London and Lamir Clark to graduation.

 

Impact Newcomers: Zah'mier Anderson, Jr., WR/DB and Ramel Anderson, So., WR/DB

This could really be a fun duo to watch develop and contribute to the Piners this season. Clark said that he has been impressed heading into the season with the play of the Anderson brothers, who are among the younger crop of players that can help Lakewood for the next couple of seasons.

 

Top Position Group: Offensive Skill Players

The Piners have Jayvon Gonzalez back and healthy at quarterback, plus 1,300-yard running back Keyon Tims with him in the backfield. A third senior, Derrick Marsh, is mixed in with two newcomers to the varsity team in Zah'mier and Ramel Anderson getting some time at wide receiver.

 

Rivalry Game: Oct. 22 vs. Point Beach

Save the best for last. The divisions and schedules have changed in recent years with the realignment, so a traditional rival in Toms River South is not on their schedule. The Piners do have a fellow Ocean County school within this year's Patriot Division in Point Pleasant Beach. When the Piners and Gulls go at it in the final week of the season, there could be a lot on the line.

 

Season Schedule

Sept. 3 -  vs. Manchester, 1 p.m.

Sept. 10 - vs. Shore, 6 p.m.

Sept. 17 - vs. Camden Mastery Charter, 12 p.m.

Sept. 24 - @Keansburg, 12 p.m.

Sept. 30 - @Pinelands, 7 p.m.

Oct. 7 - @Keyport, 12 p.m.

Oct. 15 - vs. Asbury Park, 12 p.m.

Oct. 22 - vs. Point Beach, 1 p.m.

 

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