ROCKWALL — When Rockwall’s season ended last year after its loss in the second round to DeSoto, head coach Trey Brooks knew there was an important conversation he needed to have with quarterback Lake Bennett.
“You don’t have to be anybody but Lake Bennett,” Brooks said, recounting his conversation with the then-junior. “You don’t have to be Braedyn Locke. You don’t have to be Jacob Clark. You don’t have to be any of our former quarterbacks. You be Lake Bennett.”
That was the moment the torch was passed from one of Rockwall’s best quarterbacks in school history, Braedyn Locke, down to his successor. Locke passed for 11,182 yards and 127 touchdowns in three seasons as the Yellow Jackets’ starting QB. He broke the Class 6A record for most passing touchdowns before departing for Mississippi State.
“You can never really replace a guy like Braedyn,” Brooks said. “Braedyn and I had such a good relationship, and he was such a big part of our success.”
But that is exactly what Bennett has to do this season, which started Monday at Rockwall’s first practice. The 6-foot, 220-pound senior served as Locke’s backup for three years but saw his fair share of action. He passed for 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions over the course of three seasons, while rushing for eight scores as a junior, proving to be effective at the goal line.
His ability to run is something Brooks plans to lean into this season and adds a new layer to Rockwall’s offense that wasn’t present under Locke.
“It definitely adds a whole new element,” Brooks said. “He’s a big kid. He’s a 220-pound kid and a tough kid, so he has a certain style of running. But what’s awesome is that he can still make all the throws that we always have made within our offense. He’s got a great arm and adds a different element to us and just gives us a little bit of a different look.
Bennett’s transition to starting QB is aided by the depth that surrounds him. Rockwall boasts a strong offensive line and deep receiving corps that returns three of its top-five receivers from last year. The unit is led by Clemson commit Noble Johnson, who had 864 receiving yards and eight touchdowns as a junior. It also returns senior Aiden Meeks, who had 711 yards and 11 touchdowns, as well as junior Quintero Jones, who added two.
Bennett has two-and-a-half weeks until kickoff, where he’ll lead a team that’s favored to win its district after finishing second last season. While he may be compared to his predecessor along the way, Brooks says there’s no need, as his game will speak for itself.
“I know why he’s special and what makes him special, and I don’t want him to be anything other than himself and the way that he plays the game because I think it’s something really special,” Brooks said. “I’m excited for him and excited that he’s about to have this opportunity.”
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