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LaBrae runs all over Champion

Staff photo / Nathanael Hawthorne LaBrae’s Devin Carter rushes down the sideline against Champion on Friday night. He rushed for 172 yards and 2 TDs.

CHAMPION — Despite what coach John Armeni called a slow first half, the LaBrae Vikings came out much stronger in the second half as they handedly beat the Champion Golden Flashes 54-21 Friday night.

Things started out in favor of the Flashes on the opening drive. But, after a decent opening kick return, quarterback Joey Fell fumbled in the backfield and LaBrae’s Devin Carter scooped up the loose ball for an 86-yard fumble return. Champion coach Tom Conrad takes the blame for that mishap.

“The fumble just kills you. It’s partly on me because I’m down there, I’m trying to go fast, no huddle and trying to get the ball off quick instead of taking our time and doing what we normally do,” Conrad said. “I was trying to hurry up so part of it’s on me.”

In the first half, the two teams traded scores, but a touchdown with 21 seconds to go before intermission for LaBrae gave the team the motivation to come out harder in the second half.

“We got after them a little in the locker room,” Armeni said.

Offensively, the Vikings couldn’t be stopped. The team exploded for 427 total yards, 337 of them coming on the ground behind the effort of Devin Carter who tallied 172 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 16 attempts. For Armeni, the Vikingsá offense started up front.

“We kept it real simple. We wanted our linemen to get after it, we thought we had an advantage in the trenches,” he said. “We wanted to get our skill guys touches. Devin (Carter), Aiden (Stephens) and Tre’von (Drake) did a great job with the ball, breaking tackles, making big plays and that deflates the defense.”

Combined, Carter, Stephens and Drake totaled 276 yards on the ground for five touchdowns. Conrad said the Flashes defense has some work to do in the upcoming week.

“We did not stop them one time on defense, so that’s really the tale of the game,” Conrad said. “Defensively, we’ve got some work to do. We’re up for the challenge and we’re gonna keep getting better.”

In the second half, the Vikings scored four times compared to Champion’s one touchdown.

For the Golden Flashes, Fell combined for a total of 374 yards in the loss. He scored all of Champion’s touchdowns, including two on the ground and one in the air. Despite Fell’s 241 yards in the air, the Flashes dropped a bounty of passes. Conrad said his team is going to focus on repetition.

“We tell our guys all the time to pay attention to detail. You have to have that mentality moving forward,” Conrad said. “So Monday through Thursday you show up and do what you do. You throw the ball around and work on catching the ball. In this game, reps are king. The more reps you get, the better you get.”

Despite the loss, Conrad said he’s going to try to fix the ‘mental mistakes’ his team made.

“There’s learning opportunities there,” he said. “Right now, our problem is mental lapses… We have to focus on ourselves and our mindset and doing all the little things right. We’re getting better every week so we’re on the right path.”

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