Five years ago, Hutson Mason came in with then-coach Chip Lindsey, and the duo helped the Trojans win a state playoff game for the first time.
After Mason rewrote the record books at Lassiter, he moved on to Georgia and Lindsey became an assistant at Troy. Then, Jep Irwin stepped in as coach in 2010 with Eddie Printz as the heir apparent at quarterback. Those two continued Lassiter’s winning ways with three straight postseason berths, back-to-back 10-win seasons and another region championship.
With Printz calling plays at Missouri this fall, the Trojans’ quarterback this year is anybody’s guess.
“Eddie had a fantastic three years here and had a better record each year,” Irwin said. “He won a region title and took the team to the state semifinals his junior year. He helped the team grow after Hutson and (Philip) Lutzenkirchen graduated. He had a great career for us”
Instead of an expected starter already in place, Irwin is looking at a quarterback battle between rising junior Russell Aarons and rising senior Will Anderson, who transferred from the Wesleyan School in Norcross.
“The quarterback competition is between those two guys,” Irwin said. “Russell played junior varsity for us last year, and he worked hard during practice and drills and looked good.
“Will started two years at Wesleyan and then came to us in January and joined the baseball team. We saw him on film, and we were pleased with the way he played.”
Anderson was one of the top passers in Gwinnett County last season, completing 206 of 336 passes for 2,264 yards and 21 touchdowns.
“Will is a bit older and has experience,” Irwin said. “Russell is younger but knows the system. We’ll work both quarterbacks through all of the practices until one of them emerges. It’s a good problem to have. We have two guys we think we can win with.”
Whoever wins the position will be working with a new set of hands to throw to following the departures of standout receivers Juwan Dickey and Ryan Jenkins and Willie Police.
“They were all great wide receivers for us, so we’re losing a lot there,” Irwin said. “But we have other experienced guys back.”
Blake Wilson, the Trojans’ second-leading receiver last year, returns, as do running back Lane Jackman and the entire offensive line.
“Lane was our leading rusher last season, so it’s good to have him back,” Irwin said. “We need some running backs to develop behind him, but I feel like we’ll be good offensively again. Our balance between the run and the pass was pretty good last year and, if we can get back to that this season, I’ll be pleased.
“We just need to get the quarterback situation settled.”
Lassiter’s offensive line features three-year starters in left tackle Sam Wood, left guard Luan Pereira, right guard Stephen Curran and right tackle Austin Cheatum. Philip Murray, a junior, will hold down the center spot.
The Trojans’ defense will be absent half its starters, including Ryan Gildea, Josh Danforth and James Rowe. A majority of the losses come among the front line.
Zach Spies is expected to anchor the linebacking unit, and Chris Murphy returns at cornerback.
“Overall now, I think the program has some stability,” Irwin said of the growth Lassiter has shown over the years. “Our numbers are up with 100 kids coming out for the varsity, and the kids are more experienced before they make varsity. We’re putting in guys that have played and understand the system.”