Harding makes quick work of Lakeside, 48-0

SAYBROOK – Whether the promotions director for Lakeside High School was aware that “Little Dragons” night (an event where grades-school students get to go on the field as part of the pre-game festivities) was scheduled the same night one of the largest Division II programs in the state happened to be in town is unknown, but the theme seemed to fit the night.

The Raiders of Warren G. Harding pounded undersized Lakeside 48-0 Friday night in an All-American Conference, Gold Tier game at Lakeside Stadium.

Harding, ranked second in the the latest Associated Press state poll, was able to enforce its will in just about every aspect of the game. The Raiders (6-0) piled up 422 yards of offense while holding the Dragons (1-5) to 104. Every Harding possession resulted in points.

“Tonight was an opportunity for a lot of guys that would not normally get to play and that was good because they practice every day,” Raiders coach Steve Arnold said. “We ask those guys to give our starters a good look as part of the scout team, so that is good for team morale as well.”

Harding grabbed a 20-0 lead after the opening quarter, getting a 28-yard touchdown run by Dasemen Douglast, a three-yard run by Kayron Adams and a 36-yard run by Tavon Hooks. The Raiders extended their advantage to 27-0 by the half on a pass from quarterback Lynn Bowden to Hooks, who after the reception, split a pair of would-be Dragon tacklers and went the distance for a 48-yard score.

They then scored on their first two plays from scrimmage of the second half, a 70-yard burst up the middle by Adams and a 54-yard run by Gei’vonni Washington on the next possession, putting them up 41-0.

The victory will likely keep Harding atop the Division II, Region 5 standings.

“We’re not talking playoffs,” Arnold said. “In our practice facility, you will not hear one player or one coach talking about playoffs. Since January we have talked about one thing and that’s the process, and we’re in that process, and our mind-set right now is getting ready for Boardman next week.”

Even before the score got out of hand, Lakeside coach Frank Hall knew all he could ask of his players to keep fighting, which they did.

“They played hard football tonight and they gave great effort,” Hall said. “We had a great week of practice, something I’m very proud of. Kids were hearing things like ‘Why even show up?’ but we came out, we played hard.

“They’re (Harding) just so fast over there. Coach Arnold does a great job with those kids, they’ve really got something special going.”

Bowden ran the ball just once for one yard, but he completed 3-of-3 passes for 64 yards and one TD. Adams paced the Raiders with 103 yards and two TDs on five carries. Washington added 54 yards and one TD on two carries, and Desemen Douglas ran for 46 yards and one score on four carries.

The Dragons managed eight first downs, mostly on the strength of quarterback Spencer Loftus, who ran for 56 yards on 14 carries.

“You have to give their kids a lot of credit,” Arnold said. “Obviously coming in we thought they would probably struggle against us, but they fought to the very end and that says a lot about who they are.”

Gavin Bish aided the cause for Lakeside with 14 carries for 34 yards. Hall said the offensive execution showed some sure signs of improvement even against a physically superior defense.

“The offense is coming together,” he said. “We’ve worked hard the last couple of weeks to do what we want to do and I’m pretty happy with what I saw tonight. I thought in the first half we matched them up front in certain spots.

But we also played pretty dumb, we had like five or six offside penalties, so we need to prepare better, that’s on me. But our coaches did a great job this week of not letting our kids think that even with the number-two ranked team coming in here this week, that they couldn’t compete. Our Athletic director did a good job of getting our kids to believe, so I’m pretty happy about that.”

Harding added a fourth quarter touchdown on a one yard leap across the goal line by Zane Cylar to close out the game.

“We talked about playing a clean game tonight, minimize penalties, turnovers, those things and I think, for the most part, we did that.”