The Lakeside and Columbia middle school football teams posted convincing victories Tuesday, as the Panthers and Raiders each reached the season's midpoint with perfect 3-0 records.
Columbia won 22-0 at Harlem Middle School, and at Panther Stadium, Lakeside notched a 20-0 shutout of Greenbrier Middle School.
"They executed what we've been working on in practice and did a great job," Columbia Middle coach Tony Kramer said. "All in all, they're putting it together, and I can't say enough about our defense."
The Raiders took an early 6-0 lead when Brandon Gray lofted a 49-yard touchdown pass to Malcolm Blackburn. In the second half, Gray had a 12-yard scoring run and tailback Junior Coley capped the contest with a 7-yard run.
Along with Gray's precision passing and Coley's speed on the outside, fullback Justin Hayes pounded up the middle for tough yard gain.
Columbia Middle tight end Chris Dorris caught a pair of 2-point conversion passes from Gray, and Gray also had an interception at his safety position. Tyler Swain and Chris Pickett contributed on defense by forcing fumbles.
"They were too big and too quick," Harlem Middle coach Benjie Moore said after his squad dropped to 1-2. "They just kicked our butts."
Greenbrier Middle knows the feeling. The Wolfpack dropped to 0-3 and never threatened to score against Lakeside Middle, which has yet to allow a point this season.
"I don't know if we've ever had three shutouts in a row, or even three shutouts in an entire season," said Dave Pitock, who is in his 10th year as Lakeside Middle's head football coach.
Columbia Middle's Brandon Gray charges into the endzone for a toughdown. Lakeside Middle School also picked up a win Tuesday, defeating Greenbrier 20-0. Both Lakeside and Columbia have 3-0 records and will play each other Oct. 1.
Photo by Mike Howell
Lakeside's Jeff Rowland and Lance Kennedy each intercepted a pass, while defensive linemen David Holmes and Jermel Bennett also dominated for the Panthers. Josh Pelegrin and Ken McMillon anchored the offensive line and also were solid at their linebacker positions.
The Panthers' touchdowns came on a 30-yard pass from Branden Barden to John Arena, and runs by Jemel Holmes and Lance Driggers.
"We're off to one of our best starts ever," Pitock said. "I'm really happy with our defense. We have speed at every position, and our linemen are big and fast. They're just shutting people down."
Kramer expressed the same sentiments about his Raiders.
"We've got a good balance of size and speed," he said. "If we eliminate the mental mistakes, we could dominate the whole game. I keep telling the kids if we do this together, things are going to fall into our lap. We just have to keep teaching that team attitude."
While Columbia and Lakeside appear to be on a collision course in Week Five action on Oct. 1, Evans Middle School is poised to get back in the race for the mythical middle school championship - the Knights improved their record to 2-1 with a 14-8 win over Riverside Middle School (0-3) Tuesday at the Brierpatch.
"We made a defensive stand near the end of the game. It was a good overall effort," Evans Middle coach Carter Morris said. "If we can eliminate mistakes, we'll have a pretty good chance against Lakeside, but they've got a really good team."
This week's middle school football schedule features Greenbrier at Columbia; Harlem at Riverside; and, Lakeside at Evans. The games begin Tuesday at 5 p.m.
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