Lake scores early knockout over Green

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By Keno Sultan

The Suburbanite


It is no secret at the summit of his boxing career that Julian Jackson possessed a staggering reputation of scoring vicious knockouts during his reign as WBA jr. middleweight champion and two reigns as WBC middleweight champion in the late 80's up to the mid 90s.

The Lake Blue Streaks took a page out of Jackson's repertoire tonight in front of a healthy crowd at Lake Blue Streak Stadium to commence the 54th season of Blue Streaks football in an astonishing display of effective offense and an obliterating defense as they seized a 30-0 halftime lead on their way to putting Green down for the count in a 44-14 knockout of the Bulldogs to start the season 1-0.

Jim Luther had a career defining evening as he gashed the porous Green defense for 161 yards and added on a 67-yard fumble return for a touchdown, the first of two defensive Lake touchdowns in the avalanche with Corey Paulino adding the second on a 71-yard interception return to conclude the scoring.

Dan Reed came up with two of Lake's four interceptions in the contest.

It is now the third straight year that Lake has caged the Bulldogs going back to 2008. And in each contest, Luther had a hand in the victories.

“Jimmy has a great work ethic in practice and in the game. He has great vision and is a hard worker,” 21st year Lake patriarch Jeff Durbin said. “Our guys love playing with him.”

The tone for the evening was set on the very first possession of the contest. Running on seven of eight plays and consuming 3:32 off the clock, Luther started Green's quagmire with an uncontested 12-yard touchdown run. Though the extra-point attempt of Matt Gallegly was blocked, Lake led 6-0 but it was a portent of things to come.

With the way the drive was engineered, did Durbin have a sense of the game being in hand early? Just because the tone was set on the opening drive, it didn't mean the game was in hand for the Blue Streaks according to Durbin, who attested there was a fine line between setting the tone and having a game in hand.

“I felt we came out and executed on that first drive but I never felt the game was in hand. That drive was important but we never felt the game was in hand,” he said.

That changed on Lake's next series. After Green quarterback Jon Cundiff completed a pass, Luther stripped a Bulldog receiver of the football, picked it up off the turf and rumbled for a 67-yard touchdown. And he was not finished yet. Luther added touchdown runs of 13 and 46 yards untouched in the first half barrage.

By the time the half concluded, Green found themselves on the canvas seeing stars, courtesy of three turnovers that were converted into 21 points. It only became troublesome for them when Cundiff was replaced by Mark Zimmerman and that didn't help matters at all for the visitors who were unable to rise up from the deficit.

For the first time in five years going back to a 38-8 loss to archrival Canton McKinley as the head coach of the Massillon Tigers, Green head coach Tom Stacy was lividly beside himself after his charges departed for the team buses and that doesn't happen too often to a man of his sterling stature.

“It was a lack of protection of the football and turnovers and I could go on and on. They are not 30 points better than us, NO WAY,” he said in a sharpened and forceful tone. “We had to get off to a strong start and we didn't take care of the football and you can't have that in a football game. We have to do a better job.”

Lake first-year quarterback Jon Spohn had a perfect evening as he passed for 128 yards and steering clear of turnovers. Spohn closely fits the mold of past quarterbacks John Rutan, T.J. Viscuso, and Ryan Christiansen.

But mainly, he doesn't try to emulate those gentlemen. He just takes the reins of the offense and directs scoring drives.

“Jon did a good job of managing the game. He didn't turn the ball over,” Durbin said.

Green added on two touchdown runs in the second half by Kyle Finch in the form of a three-yard touchdown run and Mark Zimmerman on a one-yard touchdown run.

It is only one game into the 2010 season. Stacy has been in this position before when Massillon made four teams feel their wrath in the playoffs after a 30-point, six-turnover setback to Canton McKinley on their way to a school-record 13 wins. But Stacy made one note pretty clear aside from five years back.

“Lake outplayed us and they were more physical than we were. You just can't turn the ball over,” Stacy said.

For Lake, they will put this one behind them and get ready for a challenge from Hudson, a team that turned them back last season in a 14-7 defensive contest that came down to the final play of the game. Durbin wants his team to enjoy this victory for two days and then return Monday to start game-planning for the Explorers before their first league opener against Canton McKinley, which will be on a Saturday night.

But for now, it is one game at a time.

“We hope to have a better plan for this year. Hudson was good last year. Our kids will come out ready to play,” Durbin said.

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