In the past, Lakeside High School faithful were concerned with the headlines.
I was asked when I started here why the headlines couldn't say the other team wins, instead of Lakeside loses. I didn't really know what they meant.
I used a convenient and accurate excuse. I don't write the headlines.
What I know now is that fortunes have swung. Lakeside, long competitive in soccer, tennis, golf and swimming, is enjoying unprecedented success in "The Big 3" of football, basketball and baseball.
The Panthers won Region 3-AAAA championships in football and baseball in 2009. More success is expected.
A competing baseball coach said recently the Panthers were the best team in the area and could finish undefeated with another region title. Lakeside baseball started 5-0 through Wednesday. It defeated rivals Greenbrier and Evans by a combined 15 runs.
Sure, the tables could be turned before the end of the season. I don't think they will. I don't think many of Lakeside's region opponents believe they will.
The Panthers are the conversation. The Chronicle 's headline Thursday following the mercy-rule victory over the Knights was "Panthers tee off on county rival."
"Everything they hit was going out of the ball park or fell somewhere," Evans coach Ricky Beale said. "We knew they were going to be one of the teams to beat if not the team to beat."
High school sports appear to flow in cycles. Lakeside could be nearing the peak of one after more than 20 years.
A school rightfully praised for its academics and proud of its accomplishments in the classroom should revel in this period of its athletics.
The football team won a state playoff game. The search is nearing an end for a replacement to lead the next group, which includes many key pieces from the previous team.
The girls basketball team earned a playoff berth for the first time. Both its top players return for their senior year.
And the baseball team, which reached the Class AAAA quarterfinals in 2009, has yet to lose. The Panthers want a trip to the semifinals. They might get it.
I watched one of the five victories, the romp of Evans. As T.J. Davis and Beale said, the Knights will have better days.
Evans also reached the Class AAAA quarterfinals. It is again a good baseball team with a pitcher who will keep them in key games when he's on.
But the Panthers will be tough to beat out for a region crown if their bats remain hot.
"We're going to be OK if we keep hitting the ball like we are," Davis said.
Davis also said the hot streak probably wouldn't extend to every game, that the Panthers would be called on to manufacture runs and lean on pitching. The test of Lakeside's mettle will not come until later, when more important games are played.
The Panthers could not have topped their start. They appear primed to continue the Lakeside chatter.
Ready the headlines. These days, Lakeside wins.
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