The winner of Friday night’s match-up on Yurview Arizona between the Skyline Coyotes (5-3) and Red Mountain Mountain Lions (6-2) will claim the East Valley Region title. Red Mountain senior Lance Lawson wants the win, at the expense of the Mountain Lions new found rival. “That would be a great win for our program and our school. Last year we came up short. The rivalry is not a long rivalry, but it has gotten bigger over the last few years. It used to be Mountain View, but now it is switching over a little bit to Skyline. So this will be a huge game.” Lawson said.
Red Mountain played the role of underdog during the state playoffs last year. As the number 13 seed, the Mountain Lions made it all the way to the state semifinals before finally having their season end at the hands of Mountain Pointe 21-14. “That’s all we talked about this whole off-season. Last year we made it to the semis. I think it is championship or bust this year.” Lawson said.
Last year Lawson, who plays safety, running back, quarterback, wide receiver, and slot back, was named first team all state as an athlete and awarded the 6A offensive player of year. This season, the senior got off to a slow start after suffering a high ankle sprain injury during the summer. He did not play in the season opener against Chandler and missed the second half of the following game versus Hamilton. The Mountain View match-up two weeks ago, was the first game Lawson was playing 100 percent healthy. “Lance is a great athlete, has great acceleration, great cutting, runs great routes, and has a great catching radius. He’s just a great athlete. Great movement on the ball when he plays safety, and can really go after the ball or jar it loose. Great field radius and coverage when he plays safety. Just an unbelievable football player. Were happy he is healthy now, and we are looking forward as we try to peak at the right time.” said Red Mountain head coach Mike Peterson.
Lawson, who has been starting on the varsity since his freshman year, has 5,224 all purpose yards in his career. He’s rushed for 2,740 yards, passed for 1,371 yards, and has 1,113 yards receiving. He has totaled 63 touchdowns. “He’s a special player because of the attention he attracts to himself. You can’t single him out. You have to double him. It opens up the field for the rest of the players.” said Mountain Lions senior quarterback Cannon Griner.
The 5’9” 185 pound Lawson currently has college offers from Arizona, Montana, Southern Utah, and Northern Colorado. While some have projected him to play safety at the next level, Lawson says he would like to continue his jack of all trades role. “Just a program that I will be able to work with. Like my ability to move around on the field. Not be stuck in one spot, because I feel like I am versatile. I also want to make sure they have a good academic program as well.”
When it’s time to get away from the mental and physical wear and tear of football, Lawson likes to draw cartoons, something he’s enjoyed doing the last few years. “When you are drawing it is the only thing that your mind is on, whatever you are putting on the paper. It is also a good stress reliever.” Finally having Lawson fully healthy heading into the playoffs is a stress reliever for Red Mountain, but will it be enough for the Mountain Lions to win their first state championship since 2001.
If Lance could draw up the perfect picture, it would be of him carrying the gold ball off the field at Arizona Stadium in Tucson on December 2nd.