What others might fear, Lakes High School embraces.
It is a road trip in November.
In back-to-back seasons, the Lancers have opened the Class 3A state playoffs 225 miles away from home.
Last year, they knocked off touted Kamiakin. And on Saturday, they trounced Southridge, 34-17, at Lampson Stadium.
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Lakes (7-4) will now take on the school that ended its season in 2015 — two-time defending state champion Eastside Catholic — next weekend in the 3A quarterfinals in Sammamish.
But first, the Lancers had to take care of 1,000-yard rusher Zayid Al-Ghani and the Suns (7-5), who were in the state playoffs for the first time since 2011.
They had not had much success in the first round of the state playoffs in their history – 1-7.
Lakes looked like a team that had won many important games, driving 55 yards on its opening series to take a 7-0 lead on Melvin Miller’s 18-yard touchdown run just 3 minutes, 30 seconds into the game.
The Lancers got the football right back, and marched 49 yards for another score. Again, it was Miller, who darted up the middle for a 8-yard touchdown, giving Lakes a 14-0 advantage at the 5:33 mark of the first quarter.
“Boy, we came out on fire tonight,” Lakes coach Dave Miller said. “That first quarter was as good as I’ve seen a Lakes team (play) in a long time.”
And then the defense got involved in the scoring.
Facing a third-and-17 on the Suns’ next drive, quarterback Mason Martin rolled to his right and tried throwing back against his body to the middle of the field.
Defensive back Dedrian Milligan saw the play unfold earlier than anybody, jumping the route and picking off the pass.
He sprinted right untouched on an 18-yard interception return for a touchdown, and Lakes went up, 21-0, with 3:53 to go.
“It was a flood pattern. (Martin) started scrambling, and I jumped (the route) as quick as I could,” Milligan said. “I took it back to the house. It pushed our momentum.”
Like last season, Lakes came over on the bus Friday. The team watched Richland, the No. 1 team in Class 4A, win its state playoff opener over Sunnyside.
And on Saturday, the Lancers looked ready. They played like it, too — especially the defense, which limited Al-Ghani to 69 yards on 28 carries.
“Travel sees to help them focus,” Dave Miller said. “It helps them bond together.”