HEBRON — The Lakewood football team has yet to host a four-quarter game this season, but starting has been no problem, illustrating the Lancers’ preparation during the week and their energy on Friday nights.
The Lancers (0-3) started fast again last Friday against visiting Fairfield Union, scoring immediately on junior Adam Crawford’s 54-yard touchdown pass to classmate Isaiah Mitchell. Mitchell previously was the spark in Week 2, returning a first-quarter kickoff for a score.
“Getting four quarters right now is obviously the goal, but we know we can play anybody in the first half,” Lakewood coach John Poulnott said. “He’s trying to find depth on our limited roster. Our defense has played pretty well in the first half, the first three quarters, but we’re wearing thin. It shows when the game is over.”
The Falcons eventually took a 13-7 lead, but the Lancers responded early in the second quarter with Crawford’s 10-yard TD pass to senior Josh Hicks. Hicks finished with four receptions for 76 yards and nine rushes for 54 yards.
The Lancers trailed just 20-13 at halftime, the third time in as many weeks they’ve been within a score with a half to play. They, however, succumbed to Fairfield Union’s multifaceted running game, falling 34-19.
“We need to stay with it the whole game,” Hicks said. “We’re getting tired and giving up, giving up. We need to stay strong throughout the game and we can pull it off.”
Lakewood’s offense has been unable to sustain the attacks and many of the Lancers’ injuries have been self-inflicted. Penalty issues that arose in his second match against Westfall have resurfaced, and inaccurate shotgun hits have caused aborted plays.
“We started having a little more trouble with perimeter blocking being too aggressive,” Poulnott said. “If you don’t see the guy’s numbers up front, just leave them alone, and there’s always that, ‘Was it really a retention issue?'”
Check out the 2022 Licking County Football Season Schedule
Hicks, Mitchell and junior tight end Nate Lee also continue to be among Lakewood’s top playmakers on defense. With that in mind, Poulnott said the Lancers are asking players to learn secondary positions to provide more flexibility in rotating players.
The depth will be magnified when Zanesville (1-2) visits Friday for a Licking County League crossover game. Hicks said the Lancers’ seniors should root for the new ones in Friday night lights.
“We just have to help them because some of the younger guys don’t get snaps as much as the older guys,” Hicks said. “We’ve just been helping them with their plays and teaching them little tips and tricks.”
Zanesville (1-2) has fallen into big holes against powerful opponents in each of the past two weeks. Quarterback Drew Doyle, however, continues to be a key player, and his dual talent led the Blue Devils to three second-half touchdowns in a 40-27 loss at Fort Frye last week.
Lakewood, playing its third home game in four, could use another fast start to put Zanesville on its heels. However, the second half will tell the story.
“The home environment is the best, having the student section there,” Hicks said. “Nothing is better than playing in front of your home crowd.”
Rine echoes the sentiment.
“Playing at home is definitely fun, especially with the support of the crowd,” Rine said. “It’s pretty amazing, especially the atmosphere. You just can’t beat it on a Friday night.”