Lakeside Middle School's Jeff Rowland breaks loose of Riverside Middle's defenders for a long gain in the first quarter.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
The Lakeside and Columbia middle school football teams picked up wins last week, and are the only middle school squads without a loss as the season approaches the halfway point.
The Panthers opened the six-game season with a 26-0 shutout of Harlem Middle on Sept. 3, and added a 30-0 victory over Riverside Middle in Tuesday's game at Panther Stadium.
"It's a pretty good start for us. We've played two good games," Lakeside coach Dave Pitock said.
Lakeside tailback Jeff Rowland has tallied five touchdowns so far, with flanker Brennen Baxter throwing key blocks to spark some of Rowland's scoring runs.
On defense, Matt Zelgewicz, David Holmes, Lance Driggers and Ken McMillan have led Lakeside. Seventh grader Jemel Holmes has contributed at running back and defensive end.
Columbia Middle moved to 2-0 last week with a thrilling home-win against Evans Middle. The squads were tied 8-8 when Raider quarterback Brendan Gray hit Malcom Blackburn for a 52-yard touchdown pass down the sideline with only 15 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
Columbia's Justin Hayes powered in on a two-point conversion run to set the final score at 16-8.
"It was a great game, one of the best I've been a part of at Columbia," Raiders coach Tony Kramer said.
Evans Middle has seen plenty of excitement already this season. In their opener on Sept. 3, the Knights beat Greenbrier Middle 16-14 on a touchdown and two-point conversion by fullback Kevin Millward with 30 second left.
"The fans enjoyed both games, but I don't know if the coaches did," Evans coach Carter Morris said. "We made fewer mistakes in our second game, but some of them cost us."
Morris credited Josh McDaniel with solid play at quarterback and safety in both games.
While Lakeside has overpowered its opponents, Columbia has had to sweat out its wins. In addition to the late score to top Evans, the Raiders edged Riverside 16-14 in the season opener.
"They've been close games, but we're pulling them out," Kramer said. "The defense has been pretty strong. It's been a team effort."
Columbia running back Junior Coley topped 100 yards rushing in both games, while outside linebacker Rick Stahman is leading the team in tackling.
Harlem Middle got into the winner's column last week with a 14-6 win against Greenbrier Middle at the Brierpatch. The Bulldogs have a 1-1 record, while the Wolfpack stands 0-2. Evans is 1-1, and Riverside is 0-2.
The Columbia County middle school season consists of five scheduled games, and then the final contests are arranged with the mythical middle school championship in mind - theoretically, the two squads with the best records though five games would square off in week six; however, each of the six teams get three home games per season, so the top two teams may not cap the campaign head to head.
That was the case in 2001 - Greenbrier posted a 6-0 record last season, while Lakeside was 5-1, but the Pack and Panthers did not meet in the finale.
This week's middle school football schedule features Columbia at Harlem; Greenbrier at Lakeside; and, Evans at Riverside (at the Brierpatch). The games begin Tuesday at 5 p.m.
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