By Madeline Williams
Allied News Sports Correspondent
MERCER COUNTY AREA —
The Lakeview Sailors have lost only one game this season — to their neighboring rival, the Mercer Mustangs in Week 4 of the regular season, 19-8.
The two teams will meet again on Friday in the District 10 semifinals in hopes of making it to the championship game against the winner of yet another Mercer County rivalry — Sharpsville vs. West Middlesex.
In the hunt for the program’s first District 10 Championship, the Sailors kicked off the opening game of the playoffs with a big 61-6 win over the Maplewood Tigers at Wilmington High School last Friday.
“Overall, I think we played well,” said Lakeview head coach Dan York. “Maplewood was a little out-manned. We’re bigger than them and might be a little faster in some positions.”
Blake Reddick, Mercer County’s rushing leader, ran for 248 yards on 12 carries, scoring four touchdowns on runs of 98, 60, 32, and 3 yards to lead the Sailors. Marquis Spence had 6 carries for 97 yards on two touchdowns.
The Sailors took an early lead on the first play of the game as Reddick ran for his first touchdown of the night on a 60-yard sprint. Quarterback Zach Bigley ran in the extra two points.
Bigley intercepted a pass from Maplewood quarterback Dane Barker to get the ball back during the next series. Reddick had a short 3-yard run touchdown, quickly followed another touchdown on a 32-yard run, to give the Sailors an early lead at the end of the first. Zach VanDusen kicked both extra points and the score was 22-0.
Spence had a series of short sprints near the end zone that resulted in a 1-yard TD for him at the start of the second quarter. VanDusen picked off a Maplewood pass and returned it 28-yards for another Sailor touchdown on the next drive by the Tigers.
Conner Stankovich caught a 46-yard touchdown pass from Bigley and VanDusen tacked on the extra point to extend the Sailor lead in the second frame. Bigley connected with VanDusen on a 55-yard pass to send Lakeview into the locker rooms at the half up 48-0.
At the start of the third quarter, the Tigers were stopped with 5 yards to go in pursuit of their first touchdown of the game. The Sailor offense took over there and Reddick ran his final touchdown of the game on a 95-yard dash. Spence scored his second TD on a 70-yard run to score the final points of the game for the Sailors at the closing of the third.
Maplewood put some points on the board during their final possession of the game when the Tigers recovered a Lakeview fumble with just 7 yards to go. After a series of two plays, Barker ran in a 5-yard touchdown.
Nearing the end of the season, many players are battling minor injuries and one of the problems, York says, is knowing how much to play everyone.
“We still have to recover from some minor injuries that we’re dealing with,” said York. “(Quarterback Zach) Bigley is still limping a little bit. (Lineman Hunter) Armstrong only played the first two series on offense because he’s dealing with an ankle injury. The good thing is no one got hurt any worse (Friday).”
The Sailors have been primarily a running-team this season, but York says the team will work on throwing the ball this week in practice in preparation for the next round of playoffs.
Game time for the Lakeview-Mercer matchup is set for 7 p.m. Friday at Wilmington High School.
“I think we're ready for Mercer,” York said. “These kids have been hungry since that loss in Week 4.”