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Lake, Sturmi start 30th season in stadium in style

BY Steve Doerschuk
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LAKE TWP. Winning an opener never gets old.

A 17-0 conquest of Akron Garfield kicked off the 30th season of football in Blue Streak Stadium. Lake pleased a crowd numbering in the thousands with defense galore, and enough offense to get by. Senior Zach Sturmi's 101-yard interception return with 45.9 seconds applied an exclamation point.

Friday night unfolded a collage of a mature program in a grown-up community, one whose young may not realize one corn field after another was being plowed under to make way for houses when the stadium opened.
Swarms of grade-school players marched around the track. A red Chevy truck, rusty on the right front fender, sported a blue helmet mounted to the grill. The Goodyear blimp hung out. A fresh 'ROCK 'EM" banner, with letters big enough to see from the Summit County line, hung like a standing order.

Sturmi couldn't believe the view after he stepped in front of a Greg Levy pass.

"It was like a dream come true," he said. "All I saw was open field, the lights shining, and the kids who were sitting on the hill behind the end zone."

Fourth-year head coach Dan DeGeorge said the blimp had never dropped by in his 17 overall years at Lake.
"I didn't look at it this time," he said. "We were all focused on the game. We have a lot of work to do, and we have tough kids who don't give up."

Lake had Garfield outnumbered, and not just in total yards (226-127). The Rams dressed 30 players. They had 33 people in the visitor's grandstand at kickoff (not counting the 31-member band).
Garfield was entirely outdone on the field at first. Lake forced a quick a three-and-out capped when senior Teddy Gillespie nailed D'Mone Adams for a big loss.

The offense debuted with two first downs behind runs from senior Joel Francis, setting up a 38-yard touchdown bomb from senior quarterback Owen Goodheart to Sturmi, who ran past cornerback Brian Moody-Carter.
The first quarter ended with Garfield facing a fourth-and-43; yet, building on a 7-0 lead got to be like pulling teeth.

The Rams had one set of numbers on their side. Junior Marcus Kidd, listed at 6-foot-5, 330 pounds, was a presence. Between him clogging run lanes and the Streaks losing fumbles (four on the night), Garfield hung in.
Twice, QB Greg Levy threw bombs toward the end zone. One was into a triple-team. Senior Chase Knoch picked off the other late in the first half, preserving Lake's 7-0 lead.

"Over the game, we did a nice job of holding them," DeGeorge said, "but we need to get better on defense, too. We had a couple of missed alignments."

Lake's offense found a winning change-up to start the second half, using swing passes to Nate Champagne and runs by Francis to set up a 27-yard Austin Coldsnow field goal that made it 10-0. Moments later, Sturmi, playing defense, scooped up a fumble and returned it to the Garfield 15. Zach Straley entered at quarterback and ran keepers that fooled Garfield once, but not twice.

On fourth-and-one from the 6, Kidd helped stuff Francis and keep the score at 10-0. Garfield, growing desperate, ran a fake punt that was stopped at the 10, but the Blue Streaks fumbled on the next play.
Sturmi ended a semi-tense Garfield drive, the Rams only serious threat, with his 101-yard interception return for a touchdown.
"That's an 11-man play," Sturmi said. "All of us were fighting, all four quarters."

The 30th season in Blue Streak Stadium opened with Lake's defense earning an "A." The grade for the offense was something like ... "we'll see."


Reach Steve at 330-580-8347 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

On Twitter: @sdoerschukREP



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