A Lennard High School Longhorns football team member.

The Lennard Longhorns look to have a rebound season after going just 2-8 in 2021. The team hasn’t had a winning season since they went 7-4 in 2019.

Seven-year head coach Matt Kitchie hopes to build off of this season with his young team for the future. The Longhorns will play a lot of sophomores and juniors, some of which haven’t played on varsity before.

“Every game is gonna be an opportunity to improve,” said Kitchie. “We need to play together and grow together and really try to create a culture of winning, moving forward. We want to see what these young bucks can do.”

Senior quarterback Tyler Russell took the majority of the snaps in the season-opening loss vs Hillsborough. The dual-threat QB will be key for the offense to establish itself this season. Junior Liam McDowell is more of a pocket passer and will take some snaps with the first team as well.

Kitchie thinks that his team’s major strength will be its running game, with its depth at the running back position. Running back Anthony Hunt will help carry the bulk. Senior receiver Duval Galite will be one of the top pass catchers. The program lost players when neighboring Sumner was established a couple years ago, but Lennard has now built back its overall depth with about 140 players on the roster. The Longhorns have one returning starter on offense and three on defense.

Key players on this aggressive, attacking 4-3 defense include junior middle linebacker Dominic Smith, junior linebacker Elijah Darcueil, senior defensive end Austin Gruber and senior defensive back Sammy Randle III, who will help lead the secondary. Sophomore kicker Aiden Gibbons will play a significant role on special teams. The Lennard soccer goalie will have kickoff duties and will punt and kick field goals.

The Longhorns have an extremely tough schedule, having to face Hillsborough, Sumner, Bloomingdale, Durant and Armwood. Kitchie’s goal is for his team to gain experience and get better each week.

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Nick Nahas has written for the Osprey Observer since 2016. He has lived in the Valrico area since 2002 and has his bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the University of South Florida. He is dedicated to covering sports in Hillsborough County at every level.