By Frank Foreman
If you like defensive football, Lakeview High School was the place to be Friday night under the lights.
In a contest where the only first half scoring was a safety, it was Lakeview that came out in the second half with the better adjustments, as the Sailors remained undefeated with a 14-2 win over Conneaut.
It certainly wasn’t a pretty game to watch as both schools combined to commit 19 penalties for 101 yards. In fact, the first half safety occurred when Lakeview quarterback Zach Bigley slipped in his own end zone untouched late in the second quarter.
But in the second half, the Sailors, a team that went into the locker room barking at each other and visibly frustrated on the field, received the jolt they needed in form of running back Blake Reddick.
On the third play of the third quarter, Reddick took the ball off the right side of the line and broke a run for 59 yards all the way to the Conneaut 1 yard line. Lakeview rewarded its running back on the very next play, as Reddick went untouched up the middle to finally put the Sailors on the board.
A successful two-point conversion pass from quarterback Zach Bigley to Zach Van Dusen made it 8-2, and Lakeview was in control.
“I’ll tell you what, I was pumped,” Reddick said after his team finally pieced together a scoring drive. “Our offensive line figured it out. Conneaut was blitzing in the first half and kept plugging up the holes and shutting us down. The line stepped up and opened the holes for me.”
For Lakeview head coach Dan York, it was the exact boost his team needed.
“Conneaut played fantastic defense and stopped us for most of the game,” York said. “Our kids were pointing fingers at each other at halftime. But they came back and stuck together, and it turned out to be a good win.”
Back-and-forth the possessions went between both teams throughout the second half, as neither the Eagles nor the Sailors could sustain any sort of drive.
Whenever one team began to show some life, penalties became the setback. For Conneaut, those penalties started early and never went away.
The Eagles opened the game with three straight penalties, and continually had Conneaut spinning its tires trying to move the ball. A mix of holding calls, illegal blocks and movement on the line never let Conneaut get things going.
“We’re disciplined on the practice field. We talk about it all the time,” Conneaut head coach Pat Gould said. “Some of our penalties were mental where we would jump offside, and there is no reason for that. We just can’t have that.”
While it seemed like the six-point advantage might me enough, following back-to-back defensive stands mid-field late in the game, Lakeview got the ball back on a turnover-on-downs deep in Conneaut territory and made the most out of it.
With 2:45 left in the game and the Sailors clinging to an 8-2 lead, Reddick took a handoff up the middle where he was met with a crowd of Conneaut defenders. Reddick bounced from the line, broke outside to the left and took off down the sideline for a 24-yard touchdown run to put the game out of reach for Conneaut, and secure a sloppy, but solid win for Lakeview.
“On that run, that was all Blake,” York said. “They stopped him at the line, and he just spun around and went for the touchdown.”
Despite a slow first half for Lakeview in which the Sailors amassed just 58 total yards of offense, Reddick came on strong and finished with 114 yards on 20 carries with a pair of touchdowns.
Neither quarterback could get much going through the air, as both Bigley and Conneaut’s Hunter Merritt threw interceptions in a game that was decided on the ground.
“Conneaut is tough to block. They come off the edge real fast with their outside linebackers, and that gave us a hard time,” York said. “We weren’t maintaining our blocks up front. That was our big problem.”
For Lakeview, it’s a nice win that it looks to carry over into next week.
For York, it won’t require much of a pep talk to get his team ready either.
“You don’t even have to talk to these kids. They know what they want,” York said. “They will come out and play hard every week.”