North Hardin coach Brent Thompson began to see Michael Lunz making plays as a freshman and he quickly realized he could become a factor for the Trojans this season.
Lunz made his presence felt this year, carrying over what began in 2017.
“I saw a little bit from him last year,” Thompson said. “I saw him making plays and he was starting to get it. His instincts are better than most linebackers.”
Lunz, a middle linebacker, was named the Area Defensive Sophomore of the Year. He received four first-place votes and totaled 24 points. Meade County defensive back J,J. Richardson was second with 18 points and two first-place votes. Elizabethtown defensive back Camden Williams was third with 14 points and two first-place votes.
Elizabethtown linebacker Camran McNeil received a first-place vote. The voting was conducted by the seven area coaches and The News-Enterprise sports staff.
“It’s a honor to win, but this is just the start,” Lunz said. “Everyone has to start somewhere so I expect bigger and better things. It’s great that all the hard work I’ve put in is recognized.”
Thompson said Lunz put in the time in the offseason and then during the season. He spent plenty of time watching film, including with Thompson.
“He spends a lot time studying film,” Thompson said. “He knows what to look for. He knows what offenses want to do. His reaction time is one of the best I’ve seen.”
Lunz finished with a 101 tackles, including 53 solo stops. He was second to safety Jerome McKinney for the most tackles by a Trojan. Lunz had 10 tackles for a loss and two sacks.
“The defensive line did a great job,” Lunz said. “They did the job up front and it allowed me to make a lot of tackles. A lot of the credit goes to them.”
Thompson said he wasn’t surprised Lunz deflected the credit.
“No doubt,” Thompson said. “I’ve never seen a great linebacker without a great defensive line. We had a good defensive line and that allowed him to go make a lot of tackles.”
The Trojans had a stingy defense, allowing just 13.7 points per game. They recorded two shutouts and limited three other opponents to eight or fewer points.
“Our defense took what the coaches gave us and we executed it,” Lunz said. “We used what they gave us and we believed and trusted in each other.”
Lunz said getting experience as a freshman is what made his adjustment to the game easier as a starter this season.
“That helped me a lot,” Lunz said. “The game is up-tempo and it’s more physical than middle school. It moves so fast. I didn’t realize how fast the game was. That was a huge advantage playing as a freshman and it made me a better player.”
Thompson said Lunz has the ability to be one of the best linebackers to come through the program if he continues to work.
“I think he needs to get a little stronger,” Thompson said. “I think it will help him to put in another offseason in the weight room. I think his body wore down as the season went on. He also needs to gain some speed.”
Lunz has high expectations for himself, and he believes he can do even more next season.
While he has some individual goals, Lunz is focused on helping the Trojans improve upon this year’s 9-3 record.
“Next year, I want to be in the top three in tackles and I want to make the All-State team,” Lunz said. “I am just focused on getting better. We had a great season, but we want to do even better next season. We’re all going to work hard to make sure we are better.”