Munno set to pace Lakeview receivers

CORTLAND — A year ago, Lakeview featured a standout, 6-foot-4 wide receiver in Jatise Garrison. Garrison is now graduated, and the Bulldogs will have to turn to yet another go-to receiver, as they look to get to the postseason after missing out in 2016.

Penciled in to be that go-to guy right now is senior Drew Munno. Munno (5-11, 195) had similar production to Garrison a year ago, and despite the pressures of taking on a bigger role, Munno is calm and collected.

“Not really (any pressure),” Munno said. “We have a bunch of threats, so I don’t see myself as a No. 1 receiver.”

In Lakeview’s offense, the Bulldogs like to distribute the ball evenly as much as possible, hence Munno’s lack of intimidation in regards to an expanded role.

And while the possession receiver, who Lakeview coach Tom Pavlansky says has great hands and improved speed, has shown a lot of growth on the offensive side of the ball, his greatest value is his versatility in all facets of the game.

“Last year was his first year of being a full two-way player on both sides of the ball, but also special teams-wise,” Pavlansky said. “He’s one of the best long snappers that we’ve ever had. Drew’s going to play a ton of football (and) he probably won’t come off the field — he’s basically on every special team.

“It’s a tribute to Drew — he’s worked hard, he cares, he wants to play, he wants to be in that moment.”

In fact, despite all of his receiving exploits, Pavlansky recalls the Bulldogs’ win against Niles last year as Munno’s biggest moment.

Late in the game, Lakeview was protecting a lead and needed to get off a good punt to flip the field. Munno sent back a perfect snap, which led to a successful punt. While that may not sound like much, an errant snap could have cost his team the game.

With that being said, Pavlansky praises Munno’s abilities to deal with high-pressure situations and adversity. Drew faced some early-season adversity on the defensive side of the football in 2016, as the primarily offensive player was asked to step up and do more.

In 2016, Munno emerged as one of the team’s starting outside linebackers, and at first, it was a bit overwhelming for Drew.

“Last year, in the beginning of the season, I didn’t really know what I was doing,” Munno said. “I just got put into that position, but after a few games, I started to pick it up more and I think I know what I’m doing now.”

In fact, Munno is now one of the key leaders of the defense. He and his Bulldog teammates will try to help Lakeview back to the playoffs after narrowly missing the Division IV playoffs with a 6-4 record a year ago.

Should Lakeview find a way to get there this year, Munno’s ability to excel on all sides of the ball is key. The senior, who has a deep-rooted passion for the game of football is certainly an ideal Bulldog — hard-working, loves the game, is unselfish and a leader.

Needless to say, playing at Lakeview all these years has certainly rubbed off on Munno.

“Playing at Lakeview is the best,” Munno said. “We have the best coaching staff, and they go out and do so much for us. We have the best team — we’re all brothers around here.”