Something strange happened last week at Panther Stadium, and it wasn't the Lakeside High School football team blowing out rival Evans High School.
Just before the Panthers took the field, a flock of Canada geese cruised over the stadium. The avian visitors were in a perfect "V" formation, and the spectators were delighted by the unexpected flyover Friday night.
Lakeside's fans never stopped cheering. Like the geese, the Panthers are flying high and "V" stands for victory.
After being embarrassed by a 30-6 defeat, Evans also has something in common with the geese - the Knights appear to be headed south for winter.
Lakeside's offense struck early and often, putting Evans in a 27-0 halftime hole. The fireworks display didn't surprise Philip Sadler.
"We were so fired up," Lakeside's A-back said after lighting the torch with three first-half touchdowns. "We knew that we worked hard these past two weeks and it paid off in the first half."
The tone was set from Lakeside's first play from scrimmage, as Sadler took the pitch from quarterback Jimmy Johnson, then cut back against the grain and weaved his way to a 28-yard gain.
The opening touchdown drive featured a 16-yard pass from Johnson to Chris Norwood and an 18 yard-run by Johnson. Sadler capped the 79-yard, seven-play march with a 1-yard run.
Lakesidecoach Randy Hill gives a thumbs-up after his team scored a first-half touchdown.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Lakeside fullback Carl Burrow did some damage later in the quarter, breaking off a 47-yard run to the Evans 25-yard line. On the next play Sadler found the end zone on a misdirection run.
Sadler stuck another knife in the Knights with a 26-yard run in the second quarter. That play set up a short score from Kyle Hill.
Evans was staring at a 20-0 deficit, and things would get worse - Sadler got loose for a 44-yard punt return to the Knights 1-yard line, and the senior then bulled in for his third TD. For the game, Sadler rushed for 116 yards on 11 carries, an he added 56 yards on two punt returns.
The 27-0 lead was plenty for the Panthers defense, which took over in the second half. The aggressive play was paced by lineman DeSean McAlpin and defensive end Alex Bragg, but it seemed every Panther got in some licks, and it wasn't just because they wanted to punish an archrival.
"That's just the way we're going to play," Coach Hill said. "We're a tough-nosed bunch, and we're going to get after it 100 percent."
Evans averted the shutout when Jay Acree scored with 21 seconds remaining in the game, but the scoreboard told a sad story for the Knights, who lost to Lakeside for the first time since 1997.
"Heck yeah you're demoralized when you lose to your archrival, but I don't think we're defeated," Evans coach Marty Jackson said. "What we've got to do is find the positives that occurred in the game, and there were some."
Lakeside's Philip Sadler scored three touchdowns to help
put the Panthers ahead 27-0 at halftime Friday.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
The harsh reality is that Evans is 0-2 entering this week's Region 7-AAAAA opener at Southwest DeKalb, and after the humiliating loss to Lakeside, the Knights weren't brimming with confidence.
"It's going to be a real test of their character, a test for me, a test for the coaching staff," Jackson said. "Nobody said it was going to be easy. We know we've got a tough road ahead of us, but I'm convinced we're going to keep getting better."
Lakeside, on the other hand, is ready to conquer the world, or at least the Panthers are prepared to battle Greenbrier in the Region 3-AAAA opener, which kicks off at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Brierpatch.
Greenbrier had an open date last week, and enters the contest with a 2-0 record, which also is where Lakeside stands after two games.
Lakeside's two wins cement a turnaround from 2002, sending last year's 0-10 season into distant memory. The Panthers are concerned about one thing, and that's the team in green.
"We're going to go one step at a time, and Greenbrier's our next one," Hill said. "That's going to be a dogfight, but we're going to come after them hard."
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