A brutal non-league schedule this season left the Lakes Lancers at 0-4 in September for the first time in coach Dave Miller’s career.
There were some nerves among the coaching staff all the losses might cause a ripple effect when SPSL 3A league play rolled around.
But Friday’s 37-0 blowout of Enumclaw at Harry Lang Stadium is proof this team has a short memory.
“That was the greatest challenge of our coaching staff,” Miller said of the gauntlet of a non-league schedule, which included top-ranked Camas and heavyweight Bellarmine Prep. “(We had) to keep their heads up and not let them give up. The first four (games) sharpened us like iron.”
And the Lancers showed off that sharpness early Friday night. On their first possession, they went 61 yards in 10 plays, with Yisrael Stephens taking it in from 6 yards out. Lakes got the ball back less than two minutes later and charged 74 yards on six plays, this time scoring on Nick Webster’s 1-yard TD plunge.
Webster, who didn’t play quarterback the first three games of the season because of a broken hand, was in his second game back at the helm. He rushed for 100 yards on 13 carries and passed for 154 in taking control of the offense.
“We were a little torn apart (after the losses) but we stayed together,” Webster said. “Coach emphasized staying together.”
After Enumclaw (3-3, 1-1 SPSL 3A) went three-and-out and Lakes got the ball back, the speedy Caleb Lyons took a sweep play 85 yards for another touchdown.
“I think we were hitting on all cylinders,” Miller said of the hot start. “I think we’ve been waiting to put it together. We’re getting comfortable with our assignments, so we’re playing fast.”
But the Lancers weren’t done. Calvin Trotty recovered a muffed Enumclaw handoff at the Hornet 32-yard line to give the ball back to the offense. It cashed in four plays later when Stephens scored his second rushing touchdown of the quarter on a 1-yard dive with 28 seconds remaining in the half.
Lakes (2-4, 2-0) piled up 341 yards of total offense to Enumclaw’s 117 in the first half.
“(The early losses) hurt, but the end result is it made us closer as a team … 10 times closer,” said Lyons, who rushed for 190 yards on 11 carries and had a 67-yard touchdown on a screen pass from Webster in the third quarter. “And we’re rolling now.”
Lakes rolled up 369 yards rushing on the ground for the game, and the defense forced four Enumclaw turnovers. It may come down to Lakes and Peninsula, 17-10 winners over Auburn Mountainview on Friday, for the SPSL 3A title. The two teams meet the last game of the season.
“Right now, our mentality is undefeated league, and we’re going to the (Tacoma) Dome,” Lyons said. “We’re getting swagger back, for sure. I feel something special about this team.”