By Joe St. Henry
Review Sports Contributor
About the only thing that could slow down Lake Orion’s offense last Friday was the football team’s own mistakes, which the Dragons overcame in a rout of Troy Athens, 42-14.
Lake Orion scored on six of its first eight offensive possessions. The Dragons were stopped only when they turned the ball over, including an interception that the Red Hawks returned for a touchdown in the first quarter.
The team also committed a total of eight penalties. In the third quarter, three Dragon touchdown runs in the same drive were called back because of holding calls. After the third, Lake Orion took to the air and did score on a long pass play.
“Those penalties can cost you in a tight game against a top team,” said Head Coach John Blackstock. “But I like how our kids didn’t get frustrated, got back in the huddle and focused on the next play.”
The Dragons finished with 435 total yards of offense, a season high. The defense, meanwhile, limited Troy Athens to 117 yards of offense and seven first downs.
Lake Orion is now 2-2 (2-1 OAA Red) on the season. The team has won two games in a row.
“It was a culmination of two good weeks of practice,” Blackstock said. “We tell our kids to work hard all week and payday comes on Friday.”
Senior quarterback Blaze Lauer led the Dragon attack. He recovered nicely from the early interception, completing 9-of-12 passes for 179 yard and three touchdowns through the air. Lauer connected with seniors Kobe Manzo (6 yards) and Matthew Freeman (36 yards), as well as junior Sam Staruch (30 yards) for scores. He also ran for 40 yards and scored a rushing touchdown.
“Blaze shook off the interception, learned from it and actually had a pretty good game,” Blackstock said.
Lake Orion’s running corps also kicked into high gear, with 256 yards on the ground.
Senior Jack DeBrincat scored two rushing touchdowns of three and seven yards. Junior Marlon Robinson ran for 80 yards on eight carries. Senior Kobe Manzo ran for 51 yards and juniors Auston Rolle (21 yards), Mitch Howell (18 yards) and Drew VanHeck (13 yards) also contributed to the effort.
“Our offensive depth is starting to develop,” Blackstock said. “It’s taken a little longer than we anticipated, but guys are coming on. There’s a couple of other players that we’re working on who we think have the potential to make big plays for us.”
Blackstock and the coaching staff used the big lead in the fourth quarter to play a number of reserve players on both sides of the ball.
“Those guys work hard in practice and want the opportunity to show what they can do for us down the road,” Blackstock said. “I was glad we could reward them with some playing time.”
This week, the Dragons travel to West Bloomfield to take on the Lakers (3-1, 2-1 OAA Red) who dominated Bloomfield Hills last week.
Blackstock said the Lakers have very athletic players at the skill positions, with a couple D1 college recruits at wide receiver and a young running back who is already getting D1 offers. They also have one of the best defensive players in the state.
Lake Orion is a big underdog, but Blackstock knows the team will be prepared. He said it is all about execution on game day.
“We’ll have to play smart and be physical on offense,” he said. “We also must stay out of third and long situations. We have to be unpredictable. Defensively, we must play as a unit and our special teams must be able to help us with field position.”