CONNEAUT LAKE — There’s nothing a coach likes better than a team effort. Well, except maybe for a win. And Conneaut Lake coach Jerry Davis was lucky enough to get both for the first victory of his head coaching career as the Lakers downed Valley 12-8 on Friday at Andy Farkas Memorial Stadium.

“The big thing with us is we’re a family,” Davis said. “That’s what we talk about: staying together, playing as one. And the guys really hung together. They didn’t get down when the chips were down at times. They played a great game, all of them. It was a true team victory.”

It would be very hard to just pick a couple players that really stood out for the Lake (1-2, 1-1 Region 1). For example, the team got 199 of its 202 yards on the ground. They had six different players that carried the ball and each one contributed one or two big rushes on the night.

Leading the way was R.J. Baker with 79 yards and a touchdown. Adam Bronson had 33 yards. Zack Wade added 27. Drew Ketcham ran for 26. Chase Miller and Joe Moon each had 17 yards. Moon also scored.

Even on defense, a lot of different guys in maroon stepped up. Defensive tackle Jeremy Mercier recovered a fumble and had a stop in the backfield. D-ends Terry Conlin and Joel Newell each had a sack. Linebacker Brock Krasa made some big stops. Wade broke up a couple passes in the secondary.

“It was a team victory,” Davis said. “The line stepped it up. A lot of guys stepped up.”

Valley fought hard against their backyard rivals, however. The Indians (0-3, 0-2 Region 2) were just one touchdown away from the lead for most of the night. They just couldn’t break through.

“The first quarter, (Conneaut Lake) scored twice on us,” said Valley’s Scott Hoover, who is also in his first year as a head coach. “But we came out and battled back. I was happy with our effort after they scored twice. We didn’t give up or anything like that. We just didn’t play all four quarters.”

In the opening frame, Conneaut Lake was finding success rushing Baker up the left side on a jet sweep. On Lake’s second possession of the game, Baker exploited that play for a 16-yard rush. One down later, they went back to the jet sweep, and Baker followed his blockers through the pack then broke out for a 37-yard run for the Lakers’ first touchdown of the night.

Valley fumbled the snap on its first play of the next possession, setting Lake’s offense up on the Valley 31. A penalty moved the Lakers back to the 43. But with carries of 21 and 8 yards, Bronson brought Lake right back into the red zone. A 10-yard rush by Wade put Lake at the 4. And Moon ate up those yards, slanting to the right corner for the touchdown.

With 4:40 left in the first half, Valley got the ball on Lake’s 41 following a Laker fumble. Eight plays later — including three nice completions by Valley quarterback Casey Baker — the Indians found themselves with a fourth-and-one on the 2 and time was rapidly dwindling.

Valley rusher Mike Leonard was stuffed short of the goal line, but gained enough the first down. With 37 seconds left, Leonard went back up the middle and was stuffed again. About 20 seconds remained and Casey Baker tried to force a keeper up the middle, he was stymied.

Finally, with 10 seconds remaining on the clock, facing a 3rd-and-goal, Baker handed the ball off to Leonard who went wide to the left. R.J. Baker met Leonard in front of the goal line, grabbed him and slung him around. But while he was going down Leonard whipped the ball across the plane, scoring for Valley with zeros on the clock.

“That was all heart,” Hoover said about the touchdown. “He sacrificed his body to get in. He got in. But he couldn’t go 100-percent after that.”

Casey Baker ran in the 2-point conversion to make it 12-8.

It became a mid-field battle in the second half. Neither team’s defense gave up much. Valley figured out how to stuff the jet-sweep earlier in the first half. And Lake was able to stop some drives with a couple sacks.

“We executed on certain plays and then (Conneaut Lake) would blitz and we wouldn’t pick them up,” Hoover said. “(Lake) did a good job on defense, blitzing the gaps.”

“(Valley) changed their defense around,” Davis said. “They took some of our strengths away. They did a nice job.”

In the end, Lake had only 54 yards in the second half. Valley only had 38.

Yet, Valley got some nice runs out of 6-foot-2, 240-pound sophomore Andrew Butterfield. He came in when Leonard got banged up on the touchdown and ended up leading the Indians with 61 yards on the ground, including 37 in the second half.

“That’s a nice luxury to have a 240-pound tailback,” said Davis. “He ran the ball hard. He was tough to bring down.”

The solution? Don’t let Valley get the ball. Lake got stingy as the game wound down, getting possession with 7:22 left in the fourth quarter holding on to it the rest of the way. The Lakers ran 12 plays, all on the ground, and gradually picked up three first downs as the clock drained away.

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