Not much has gone according to plan in the last couple of weeks for the Lakeview High School Gators football team. Friday night sure didn’t.
After an impressive scrimmage at Lakeside Aug. 20, the Gators were sidelined by COVID quarantine protocols last week, and were still hampered by missing some key personnel as they kicked off the regular season Friday night at Tensas in St. Joseph, on the banks of the Mississippi River.
Despite a valiant effort, particularly defensively, Lakeview faded late in a 22-6 loss that was in doubt until the latter stages of the contest.
Getting offensive plays underway was not a given, said coach Brandon Helms.
“We had a lot of snap issues. Fumbled snaps, mishandled snaps, bad snaps, and every play starts with a snap,” he said. “We put ourselves in bad situations.
“But we had chances to punch the ball in, and didn’t. We were inside their 10-yard line four times and got no points out of those opportunities. We turned the ball over on downs three times, and fumbled at the five.”
The personnel shuffle hampered the Gators.
“We definitely missed some of the guys we didn’t have because they were quarantined. That showed. We played a lot of young guys and the positive is, they got a lot of experience. The negative was, they’re young and made some mistakes inexperienced players can make,” said Helms.
There were bright spots, he said.
“Our backs ran the ball well. We had two explosive runs,” said Helms. “Our defensive line got after it, for the most part. We weren’t able to throw at all, which is completely against my nature, and that’s disappointing. I was pleased with the effort of some of our kids.”
Two usually unsung Gators earned praise as standouts in the contest.
“(Defensive tackle) Dillon Ireland is 6-foot-1, 260 and plays hard. He did that every snap, all night, and played well. He normally doesn’t play a lot on our offensive line but we were down some personnel, and we put him as an extra tight end where he was a road grader for us.
Ireland recovered a fumble in the end zone to lift Lakeview to a first-half lead. Tensas had blocked a punt to score a safety for a 2-0 edge, but Ireland’s touchdown put the Gators on top 6-2, an advantage that lasted until later in the game.
“Devonte Rice played very hard, in his first football game, and did some good things as a running back,” said Helms. There were some guys who stood out, played hard, but those two really stood tall for us.”
Tensas broke a couple of long runs later in the game as Lakeview players tired.
“It was a competitive game throughout, and nobody could make a play to stretch it one way or the other for the longest, and late in the game, Tensas did,” said Helms, who noted the field didn’t appear to have been mowed for weeks, adding to the difficulty for players.
But after being sidelined last weekend, “we got to play,” said Helms. “We didn’t get to do that in a jamboree, and some of those mistakes that you get worked out in a jamboree, we had to suffer through in week one.
“We’ve got to get healthy, and we’ve got to get a lot better, quickly. We’ll regroup and get ready for Beekman Charter next Friday night in Bastrop,” he said.
The Gators are finally at home on Sept. 17 against Rayville.
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