Coming off an eight-game 2018 football season where he rushed for 515 yds. (9.2 avg.), caught nine passes and scored five touchdowns, La Costa Canyon running back Aiden Lippert would be expected to have heightened expectations coming into his junior campaign in 2019. He’ll be replacing his brother Karson (now on the track & field team at Stanford) as the Mavericks’ first-string tailback.
Like his older sibling was, the 5-foot-9, 170-pounder is also a standout sprinter for LCC and last spring finished third in the 200 and 400m at the San Diego CIF Championships and just missed making the finals in both races at the CIF State Championships.
Mavericks’ veteran Head Coach Sean Sovacool isn’t hesitant to sing the younger Lippert’s praises or openly share his beliefs as far as what he can accomplish this fall. “Aiden has a wide array of skills including fantastic field vision, elite speed, unexpected strength and power and zero fear of contact,” says Sovacool. “With all of his natural ability, he is still one of the hardest workers in our program and gets after it every single day.
“I expect him to be one of the best players in the county and someone other teams are going to have to game plan against. He has the ability to triple last year’s numbers—he’s that good.”
As usual, Sovacool’s La Costa Canyon football outfit figures to be in the hunt for the Avocado West League title and one of the four berths in the CIF Open Division Playoff bracket. With training now underway for prep teams throughout the section, Lippert spent time recently talking about the inevitable comparisons between him and his brother, his perspectives on the current Maverick roster and the part he hopes to play this year.
Q—What’s the most difficult part of pre-season?
LIPPERT—Overall, probably just keeping my body healthy and not getting injured. I want to work hard but not try to be a “fall camp hero.” You’ve got to be smart about how you go about your work.
As far as drills, conditioning after practice can be tough. I try to go all out and be first but after working out for two and a half hours, running those extra 40-yard sprints can be super taxing.
Q—How do you view your role this season and what kind of contribution do you hope to make?
LIPPERT—I know I’ll have a bigger role and feel like I’m going to be expected to make more of an impact. We’re looking to have a solid run game so I want to establish myself as a threat on the field at all times, as a runner, receiver and kick returner. Coach Sovacool typically runs a pretty balanced attack so I want to be sure that I can be a contributor in all phases.
Q—For you, what’s the key to being a successful running back?
LIPPERT—Versatility, not being a “one-trick pony.” I want to be dangerous as a finesse/speed runner but also be able to truck the ball when we need a power back in short yardage situations. I should also be a threat on screens and flies when I’m lined up in the slot. Putting all those things together will be significant to my success.
Q—Do you often find yourself compared to your brother? How would you describe your relationship with him?
LIPPERT—I get compared to Karson a lot but I think that’s just natural when we’re playing the same sport. We’re probably each other’s “real” best friends and one’s always trying to provide support for the other. When either of us says something, the other knows he really means it.
Definitely, I’ve looked up to him. He always seemed to be doing big things while I was learning the ropes. Karson’s continually helped me with the mental side of stuff, like what to be thinking during a game or going into competition with a confident mind-set. He is still a teacher—sharing all of his experiences and the new things he’s learning—I’m really appreciative of that.
Q—How would you compare yourself to him, personality-wise and on the football field?
LIPPERT—In a lot of ways, particularly personality-wise, we’re the same. Our parents raised us to be super polite and respectful and I think we’re both that way. No trash-talking on the field, stuff like that. People say we’re pretty quiet but at home I’m super outgoing. I guess it takes a little time for me to warm up to people.
On the field, our styles are a little different. I would say I’m quicker but he’s faster. Karson runs to open space while I tend to cut back more.
It’s weird that I started playing football when I was around 6 and last year was the first time we were on the same team together. It was disappointing that he was injured the second half of the season.
Q—Where do you think the two of you get your athletic prowess?
LIPPERT—My mom (Jennifer) ran track & field and was a gymnast in high school and my dad (Kevin) played college football at Cal as well as high school baseball. It’s funny because they both say they’re the source of our athletic genes.
In reality, it’s probably equal. My dad’s been coaching me since the start and I’d have to give him credit for my football IQ, always emphasizing the need to take advantage of my speed and to use everything I’ve got on every play.
I think I inherited my mom’s grit. She’s also supported me in sports my whole life, coming to all my games and always taking me to practices.
Q—During a 41-21 win over El Camino last fall, Karson and you had back-to-back kickoff returns for touchdowns, his 92-yarder to end the first half and your 80-yarder to open the second half. How big a highlight was that for the two of you?
LIPPERT—That was crazy and I’m sure we’ll remember that for the rest of our lives. It seems like we talk about it at least every month. I knew they weren’t going to kick it to Karson after halftime and I was actually kind of surprised they kicked it to me.
When I got the ball, I just saw a big hole opening in front of me and ran straight through it. All I really had to do was outrun the kicker.
Q—Last season LCC won its first five games (including an impressive win over eventual CIF Open Division champion Cathedral Catholic) and looked to be as good as any team in San Diego. You ended up 6-4. What happened?
LIPPERT—Honestly, we just got swamped with injuries. After we lost so many guys and started stacking up losses, the whole team kind of got down. That’s in the past, though, and we’ve worked really hard on injury prevention in the off-season and so far during practice.
Q—How do you feel this year’s team differs from last season’s and from what you’ve seen so far, what kind of potential does it have?
LIPPERT—I think we learned a lot from last year and feel like this team might be a little stronger. The coaching staff has implemented a lot of elements that emphasize a competitive, effort-focused mind set which is going to help.
I believe we have the potential to do anything we want—a sort of a “why not us?” attitude. That includes winning the Avocado West League, CIF, State, anything. The LCC program has always been teamwork-based and if we can work together every single game, every single play, we can be unstoppable.
La Costa Canyon opens its season, Friday, Aug. 16 at Rancho Buena Vista. Kick-off is at 6 p.m.