Undefeated Hawks blow out fatigued Wildcats


Liam Bradford, Editor-in-chief

Resiliency. Rising to adversity. That is what coach Mike Schroeder and the Lakeland football program have preached and practiced since the coaching switch that took place this spring. The Hawks gritty, ground-and-pound mentality trounced the Columbia Wildcats, 35-10, on the first of September.

“Great all-around game, specifically the second half; we turned it up and dominated. The run game was consistent. I expected it to be a tougher game for us, we didn’t pass the ball much, but it’s not like we really needed to,” said Hutton Hegbloom, Hawks starting tight end.

Lakeland started the game slowly while both defenses battled back and forth for the majority of the first half, with trading blows being thrown between both teams. It was a scrappy game and a low-scoring first quarter.

After Columbia kicked a second-quarter 29-yard field goal, the score was 7-3, and Columbia appeared to be gaining momentum. With the Wildcats set to receive the second-half kickoff after the Hawks deferred in the first half, coach Dotson’s team was in a solid position with just 55 seconds remaining.

John Cornish proceeded to return the Wildcat kickoff for over fifty yards, taking it into Columbia territory and setting up the Hawk’s offense for a two-minute drill. A typical two-minute drill would consist of passing the ball deep downfield and running plays designed for the edges of the sideline.

However, the Hawks never strayed away from the “run it up your throat” game plan. Following several 10+ yard runs, Zack Kuenkler caught a pass at the 15-yard line and took it all the way down to the five-yard line. The next play, Caysen Loutzenhiser took it himself into the endzone for a score, giving the Hawks a 14-3 lead going into the half.

Hawks sophomore wideout Weston Saputski, who scored his first varsity touchdown in Thursday’s game, said, “We came in really hard after halftime. I didn’t think I had much open field on my end around touchdown until John picked up a huge block. Going into next week, we need to keep doing our assignments on the field and having the whole team contribute and do their part”.

In the second half, the Hawks ran the show, eventually winning 35-10 en route to their first 3-0 start in eight seasons. This half consisted of two routine John Cornish touchdown runs and a 47-yard pick-six for junior Caden Smith.

The Hawks have started the season on a fantastic note at 3-0 and will play next against West Valley on the road this Thursday in Spokane, Washington, at 7 pm.