Every opportunity that has come Lumiere Strickland's way so far, he has taken and run with it.
Entering his third and final season as a workhorse running back for Red Bank High School, the speedster who brings shiftiness and explosion to the football field is aiming to win a state championship while also paying tribute to someone near and dear to him.
"This senior year means everything to me and our class," Strickland said after Monday's first summer training session. "We want to wake the whole city and state up. I am giving the game my all for my mom (Maggie Ann Bloodsaw). She is my inspiration and queen. She did everything for me while she was on this earth."
Taking the Bible verse Philippians 4:13 to heart, which reads, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me," Strickland is ready to roll once again after he and the Lions, as well as all other teams in Hamilton County, returned to the football field Monday for the first time since the coronavirus outbreak shut down on-campus classes and sports in mid-March.
Opponents hoped to gather their breath after trying to contain former Red Bank star Calvin Jackson III, now a Wofford College wide receiver, but the 5-foot-11, 195-pound Strickland has provided no such break.
The Region 3-3A running back of the year in both 2018 and 2019, Strickland has 30 touchdowns and more than 2,000 all-purpose yards over the past two seasons, with the Lions reaching double-digit victories each year.
Despite being behind schedule compared to past offseasons, which consisted of spring practices and intense June training, taking things slower this year sits just fine with the Lions.
"Life has everything to do with timing," said Strickland who has scholarship offers from Austin Peay, Campbell, East Tennessee State, Eastern Kentucky, Gardner-Webb, Southeast Missouri, Tennessee State and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
"Sometimes you have to wait and be OK with it. I felt like it was best for us to wait with the pandemic. It was worth the break, but I am so happy because it feels great to be back."
Red Bank's coaching staff went above and beyond to keep things safe at Monday's practice, which featured nearly 20 skill position players. Tuesday's practice will involve linemen as coaches try to spread people out as much as possible.
Players worked in groups and stayed 6 feet apart while conditioning and going through schemes for the last part of Monday morning's three-hour practice. Players and coaches even wore masks when in closer contact and had cleaning stations where coaches were equipped with hand sanitizer, cleaning spray and wipes.
While the heavy lifting will wait for now, the Lions are simply glad to be back together after seeing what could be taken away during the shutdown.
"We love these kids and will never take for granted another second around them," Red Bank coach Chris Brown said. "We have great coaches and leaders here who are going to help them adapt to the new normal. Fortunately, we have a lot of kids who have played a lot of critical snaps and made big plays, and they know what we expect of them. It's great to be back around each other again. We are working towards that state championship ring and helping these kids do something great after high school."
Looking to make summer gains, Strickland added: "You have to lock in even now when we are training and doing the little things. You have to be ready to go when the lights come on. That means get here on time every day, being ready to work and having a great mindset."