KNOXVILLE – Taking a new job, moving to a new town and learning about the new place where you live is both an exciting, as well as challenging, experience.

Doing so in the midst of a global pandemic makes it an even bigger adventure and Jermel Jones has found that out first-hand.

The new football coach at Lakeway Christian said, however, that the people in this area has made the move a very pleasant one. “The transition has been amazing because the people in Morristown have accepted me. Everywhere I go, you see friendly faces and people saying hello. That is a lot different than in Florida where people don’t speak as much but here, folks are friendlier.”

The LCA Lions are set to hit the field for the first time as a TSSAA sport this fall and speaking at Friday’s Knoxville Football Officials Association media day event in Knoxville, Jones said he is doing the little things to prepare his team for more lofty accomplishments down the road.

“It is about laying a foundation and setting standards. We want to raise the expectations of the kids who are at our school,” Jones said. “A lot of them have not have an opportunity to play a varsity sport so I want to raise their expectations to a higher level. I don’t really want to raise those expectations to where they think they will have an undefeated season but I want to teach them to come to work every day, do the little things so you can be great at the big things.

“Right now, it is teaching foundational, fundamental things so we can build that success program as time goes on,” Jones said of his team’s preparation for the beginning of the 2020 season and beyond.

Lakeway Christian will move into their new, state-of-the art facility in White Pine this fall and Jones said excitement abounds as the new school year approaches. “It’s great to be at a place that looks at everything, not just sports, but drama, chorus and band, and there is just as much detail taken into making the facilities they will be using as nice as the ones in athletics. This is a place that is well-rounded and sees value in everyone to see what their gift and talent is.”

Jones brings to the LCA program a wealth of experience as he served on the staff of several Florida public high school football programs before taking over The Master’s Academy and leading them to a state championship.

He said he wants to have that same kind of experience with the Lions but with the restrictions on how practices are conducted, it was been a challenge. “Right now, trying to practice social distancing has been the toughest thing. We want to do one-on-one drills or seven-on-sevens but we can’t do that right now. That has been the biggest hurdle but we are trying to find ways to get better even though we can’t do those other things.”

Despite that, Jones said he likes what he has seen in his team so far.

“Practices have been going great and we have had a lot of kids come out for the team,” Jones said. “Seeing that the kids are bought into what we are doing is the largest blessing of it all.”