Lake beats McKinley

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By Darby Musselman

The Suburbanite

 

Schrock
Senior defensive lineman Jeremy Schrock sacks McKinley's quarterback Kyle Ohradzansky.

 

In 54 years of Lake High School football, the Blue Streaks have never played a regular season Saturday night game in their program.

Their sternest test came against a Canton McKinley Bulldogs team that had not trailed in eight quarters and fresh off of a shutout of Huber Heights Wayne. But when the lights shined down on the Pro Football Hall of Fame Field at Fawcett Stadium in the Federal League opener of the new decade, the visiting Blue Streaks put on a performance that Kanye West will not have been able to interrupt. Lake used a 30-yard touchdown pass from Jon Spohn to Dan Reed and then two touchdown runs from Jim Luther along with a wildly jurassic and precise defense to harass Canton McKinley into a 21-14 humbling defeat in a battle of undefeated teams.

This was another hard-hitting Lake-Canton McKinley contest and it has always been that way since 2004. Outside of a wide 38-7 Canton McKinley victory in 2005 and a 24-6 Lake runaway in 2007, five of the seven games between these two teams have been competitive and this one was not an exception. One thing is for certain though. The Lake Blue Streaks do not beat themselves.

"Well, I think our guys were focused and they came out extra ready to play. We believed we could go out and win. And we had a great start right out of the gates,” a joyous Jeff Durbin said. “Our defense played really aggressive tonight."

The words of the head coach who is a proud father of three grown children were truly prophetic. They came to fruition on the second play of the first possession of the hosts. Lake's asphyxiating defense caused a fumble that was recovered and it didn't take them long to find a scoring paycheck. Spohn threw a short past to receiver Dan Reed, who used several key blocks and found an open path all the way to the end zone. Fifty-four seconds into this pivotal Federal League contest, Lake had assumed an early 7-0 advantage and set the tone for the evening. Their third possession was even more rewarding. Using 10 plays and eating up the first quarter clock, Lake converted two third down situations and Luther scored on a two-yard touchdown run and after Matt Gallegly's second extra-point kick, the visitors had a stunning 14-0 lead on a team known for bringing the thunder on every possession.

"That fumble on the second play of the game, we put it on the ground and gave Lake a short field and that set the tone," third-year Canton McKinley head coach Ron Johnson said of Lake's two-touchdown assault.

Canton McKinley finally got a taste of some smelling salts and well needed ones at that. Following a long kickoff return by Taron Montgomery and using four Saveon Holloway runs, the Bulldogs eliminated the zero off the scoreboard with a Holloway four-yard touchdown run. The two-point try was no good and the score remained 14-6. Lake constructed their most important drive of the game on their fourth possession. Obtaining three first downs and using a 27-yard pass from Spohn to Luther and overcoming a delay of game penalty, Luther scored his second touchdown late with 5:19 remaining to push the Lake advantage up to 21-6 at halftime.

Neither team scored in the third quarter and that was all right for Lake. They made sure that the Bulldogs vaunted speed and skill players not to mention their depth did not become a determining factor over the course of the game.

"We had talked early in the season about toughness and Lake football is about that. Our kids buy into that and we play tough as always," Durbin said.

Canton McKinley had three chances to score inside the Lake five yard line overall. Each time they were turned away on downs, once in the second quarter and twice in the fourth quarter. They did get into the end zone on quarterback Kyle Ohradzansky's four-yard touchdown run with 1:30 left and cut the deficit to two with a successful two-point try but failed to recover the onside kick that ventured into the hands of Lake's Wes Wilson.

From there the Blue Streaks ran out the clock and advanced their record to 3-0 (1-0 Federal) while Canton McKinley slipped to 2-1 (0-1 Federal). Leaving points on the scoreboard came back to haunt the Bulldogs again. Had they converted three times in the red zone, it may have parlayed into at best a 24-21 score and a game-stealing triumph. This was a quagmire that snakebit them in a 10-7 loss to Massillon in a regional final in which the Bulldogs left 17 points on the scoreboard in Akron against a tired Tigers defense running on fumes in the second half. Johnson was cross after tonight's game not to mention beside himself. And he expected his team to be the same way themselves.

"Lake plays tough every year. We had to match their intensity and we did not do that," he said. "We can go either one or two ways. We can either improve or we can roll over."

For the Blue Streaks, they will not be able to savor this historic Saturday night win for long. Next Friday is another physical confrontation with a Youngstown Boardman Spartans football team that has brought out the best in Lake the last three years. Lake captured a 34-27 win last year at Boardman and if they are going to win again for the second year, they will have to play with the same zeal that has epitomized Lake football during the 54 years of this tradition.

"You talk about physical, Youngstown Boardman is a physical team and we must be ready for them," Durbin said.

In 54 years of Lake football, the Blue Streaks had never played under the lights on a Saturday evening. That all changed in an unforgettable performance that Kanye West will not have been able to interrupt.

 

Spohn
Lake junior quarterback Jon Spohn takes off on a qb keeper.
Luther
Lake senior running back Jimmy Luther avoids defenders as he aims for the endzone.

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