Dream Team Coach of the Year: Lima Senior’s Lawrence brought high-flying offense

LIMA — Bill Lawrence filled a few different roles while on the Kenton football coaching staff for 16 years.

Lawrence was an associate head coach, offensive coordinator and an assistant coach on a staff at Kenton who implemented one of the most dynamic and exciting spread offenses in the region.

This year, Lawrence took over as the head football coach at Lima Senior. Along with Lawrence coming to Lima Senior came the high-flying, five receivers-wide, spread offense that Lawrence learned during his years at Kenton.

Lima Senior’s athletes quickly bought into the new and exciting offensive scheme.

The result was a 9-3 overall record for the Spartans, a perfect 6-0 mark in the Toledo City Athletic League and a league title in their first year in the TCAL. It was Lima Senior’s first league championship since 1996, its first winning season since 2016 and a quick bounce-back from the previous year’s 3-8.

Lima Senior played in this year’s postseason playoffs and made it to the Division II regional quarterfinal against Troy, where it lost 42-15.

With his stellar first season at Lima Senior, Lawrence was named The Lima News 2023 Dream Team Coach of the Year.

Lawrence said from the beginning of the interviewing process for the Lima Senior position, he felt confident the football program could enjoy success within a short period of time.

“I knew the opportunities would be available for us to be successful,” Lawrence said. “But the question everyone asked me was how would we be able to do it in the first year.

“That starts with a great group of coaches that were already here. Then, we had a great group of coaches coming with me. I was able to put together a pretty good staff.

“With all of that, it was now up to the players. … Can they buy into what we’re doing? … And boy, did they buy in. I knew when I was coming (to Lima Senior), I knew this (spread offense) was what I was bringing with me. This is what I interviewed on. This was what we were going to do. It’s exciting when it all comes together.”

The Lima Senior offense was explosive.

Sophomore quarterback Ja’niaus Hall led the Spartans’ offense with 3,932 passing yards on 255 of 435 passing. He threw 46 touchdowns and had 21 interceptions.

Seniors Zaveon Garner (68 catches, 1,179 yards, 16 TDs) and Chance Sanders (66 catches, 1,068 yards, 14 TDs) were the top two receivers for the Spartans. In its 12 games this season, Lima Senior scored an average of 36 points per game. Defensively, Lima Senior gave up 24.8 points per contest.

Hall was first team all-TCAL and was the co-player of the year. Garner, Sanders, and Kaden Hampton (wide receiver) also made the first team.

Also making first team all-league for Lima Senior were offensive linemen I’Rell Farrow, Jon Tummel and Alex Waithe. Defensive lineman J’Sean Hicks, linebacker Tavion James, defensive back Keyon Smith and defensive back/return specialist Isaiah Wilson also made the first team.

Lawrence was named TCAL Coach of the Year.

“That’s the one thing (longtime Kenton) Coach (Mike) Mauk talked about all those years – is that kids love to come to practice when you’re throwing the ball around, you’re designing formations and all that kind of stuff,” Lawrence said with a grin. “It does make football fun — not that some of those different offenses aren’t fun. With that, we have a very special kid (Hall) at quarterback, who is learning and growing. … Then you put athletes around him, spread the ball around and let them make plays. We were excited to be able to do that.”

Lawrence said that he saw the potential in his players early on.

“Right away, we were impressed at how hard the boys worked. As we started to throw and learn the offensive system and figure out our defense and all that, we saw that we had some competitors,” he said. “When you have those competitors, normally that turns into leadership. And when you have that leadership, that makes you go. We had a great group of seniors in my first year. To come in and have 16 seniors in my first year really helped us.”

Lawrence is not going to spend a great deal of time celebrating this season’s success.

“We didn’t play our best game when we got to Troy (quarterfinal loss). That’s going to drive us during the offseason, in our quest for back-to-back championships,” Lawrence said. “It’s about (winning) a championship and then going farther next year (in the playoffs).

“What does it take to get there? That is where the weightlifting and all that preparation to be a back-to-back champion happens. … And it’s going to be even tougher because we’re not going to sneak up on people. They know what system we have, what defense we have, and they’re going to prepare harder. So, we’ve got to be ready for that.”


Read more about the 2023 Dream Team at LimaOhio.com/tag/dreamteam:

See the 2023 Lima News Dream Team, highlighting the best players from Allen County, northern Auglaize and southern Putnam County

Read about Carson Parker, the 2023 Dream Team Offensive Player of the Year

Read about Joey Truesdale, the 2023 Dream Team Defensive Player of the Year

Read about Bill Lawrence, the 2023 Dream Team Coach of the Year