Western Branch overpowers Lakeland
Published 12:39 am Saturday, September 22, 2012
By Matthew Hatfield
Entering their first major Southeastern District road test of the season, the Lakeland Cavaliers went to Chesapeake to take on an undefeated and surprising Western Branch Bruins squad that proved to be too much for the Suffolk visitors.
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Lakeland suffered its first loss of the season on Friday night, 50-0 at the hands of the improved Bruins, who amassed 273 yards rushing on offense and registered nine sacks on quarterback Zach Super.
Western Branch methodically moved the ball down the field and imposed its will on the Cavaliers, scoring on each of its first four offensive possessions to build a 26-0 lead by halftime. Lakeland went three-and-out on every one of its six offensive series in the opening half. The Cavaliers concluded the evening with no first downs and minus 90 yards.
Through its first three games of the season, all wins, Lakeland put up some rather dominating statistics, averaging 37.7 points per game and holding opponents to just 92.3 total yards per contest.
For a team that thrives on big plays, the Cavaliers couldn’t get anything going right on Friday. Their longest play from scrimmage was a nine-yard scramble by Super, who managed only two pass completions out of eight attempts for a mere four yards.
Coach Glenwood Ferebee attributed the uncharacteristic performance in part to a few key absences up front on the offensive line. Chris Rodgers was serving the second of a two-game suspension, while Craig Taylor sat out after he hurt his head on Thursday, needing stitches that would keep him sidelined. Taylor and Rodgers start on defense, as well.
Not only was Lakeland missing both starting guards, but also its center, DKente White. One of the team’s normal starters at offensive tackle ended up starting at center. The inexperience on the line showed, as the Cavaliers had two punts blocked and got backed up to their own end zone, getting hit with three safeties, as Western Branch controlled field position the entire night.
“Missing those guys, we were limited in what we do, and when you don’t have the numbers to rotate guys in, it hurts,” Ferebee said. “But we don’t make any excuses. Western Branch is one heck of a football team. They punched us in the mouth from the start, and they physically beat us. We couldn’t stop them on defense.”
Freshman linebacker Jaquan Yulee, senior linebacker Demonte Tillery and junior defensive end Marche Everett led the Cavaliers on defense with five tackles apiece.
Both Rodgers and Taylor are slated to return next week, although the Cavaliers will be without one of their best playmakers in Antonio Jefferson, who suffered a concussion and must sit out the next game against the defending Division 6 State Champion Oscar Smith at Cavalier Park.
“That’s a big loss, but this gives us a chance to re-evaluate ourselves, and we realize we have a lot of work to do,” noted Ferebee, whose team’s playoff hopes are still very much intact at 3-1 overall, 2-1 in the district.
“We’ll go back and revamp ourselves, and I think we’ll be ready for Oscar Smith next week. It’s a long season, and our goal is to get to the playoffs. From there on, it’s let’s see what happens.”