White Lake Lakeland cashes in quickly against young Walled Lake Central squad at Battle at the Big House
ANN ARBOR — Things come at you quickly up here on varsity.
You’re either experienced enough to handle them, or you’re not.
A year after starting the season with a bunch of youngsters, White Lake Lakeland has the experience to sail right through quick-change scenarios that came up early on Saturday in the third day of the Battle at the Big House.
Co-favorites in the Lakes Valley Conference, the Eagles scored three touchdowns before Walled Lake Central had run its fifth play from scrimmage, taking advantage of every miscue by the young Vikings to roll to a 45-0 win.
“Things just happen quick. Things just happened really, really quick. We scored the touchdown after the onside kick, which we executed that,” said Lakeland coach Joe Woodruff, whose team recovered an onside attempt on the opening kickoff. “Then we go down and score, and the ball gets hung up in the wind. We’re sitting back there (behind the bench), watching the last play on video, and all of a sudden, it’s like ‘Offense, back on the field!’ That’s experience, being able to run our entire offense at the line of scrimmage. It just helps out so much. Things happened really quick in that first, second quarter, didn’t they now?”
Just seconds after Dakota Myers converted on a 1-yard plunge for the first of his three touchdowns, the Eagle offense was shipped right back on the field, after the Vikings muffed the kickoff. Three plays later, Myers scampered in from 19 yards out to make it 14-0.
Finally set up with an offensive possession, the Vikings would try a fake punt on fourth-and-4, turning it back to the Lakeland offense for another short field.
Anthony Rossi ran it in from 3 yards out to make it 21-0, after starting three drives at the 50, the Central 26 and the Central 23.
“Yeah, it was really nice. Our defense was playing super hard, they were playing out of their minds,” said Myers, who finished with 149 yards, despite just two second-half carries, one for a 44-yard score. “Just run low, and follow your open gaps, follow your line.”
“Last year, when we played them in Week 1, 17 of these kids were starting for the first time. So this year, obviously, we had a lot of experience coming back. Kids played like they had a lot of experience,” Woodruff said. “We talk about process, process, process in our program. Do the little things, and the outcomes will happen, and this was a good example of it. You’ve got second- and third-team kids that are running our offense, and doing it flawlessly, that tells you we’ve got a process going, and it’s working over there in White Lake.”
Robbie Tracy would run the next scoring drive out of the Wildcat formation hitting Rossi with a 27-yard scoring pass, and the subsequent 2-point conversion, as well, to make it 29-0 at the half.
After Myers’ third score, kicker Leo Skupin hit a 35-yard field goal to make it a 38-0 game less than two minutes into the fourth quarter. Nick Rohde scored Lakeland’s final touchdown of the afternoon.
The Vikings mustered just a pair of first downs on the afternoon, a product of the overall youth on the field.
“Youth is great, and it’s terrible at the same time. We’ll get better. Kids didn’t quit,” Central coach Bob Meyer said. “We’re a young team, and there’s a whole lot of learning that has to take place. At least now we’ve got film, and hopefully make a big jump from Week 1 to Week 2. That’s all we control. Don’t take anything away from them, though. They’re a very good football team.”
At the start of last season, the Eagles were nearly as young as the Vikings are now.
“Last year, when we played them in Week 1, 17 of these kids were starting for the first time. So this year, obviously, we had a lot of experience coming back. Kids played like they had a lot of experience,” said Woodruff, who isn’t going to let his Eagles celebrate long, not with a date against Waterford Mott up next. “We’ll tell the kids, you’ve got about 12 hours to celebrate. See you tomorrow morning, so we can get ready for Mott. We’ve got a huge game next week against Mott. Everybody knows who Mott is, and we’ve got a short week, so a lot of things to get ready for.”