Lakers unable to corral speedy Phoenix Vigue, 52-13

 

BIG KICK RETURN — Lake Region junior Quinn Piland heads down the sideline, returning a kickoff for a touchdown. (Rivet Photo) SPRUCE 52 LAKERS 13 First downs: LR 10, SM 13 Penalties: LR 2-10, SM 3-30 Rushing: LR 46-142, SM 33-258 Passing: LR 2-11-37, SM 7-12-116 Total offense: LR 1779, SM 374 LR rushing: Cody Gibbons 29-104, RJ Legere 2-1, Donovan Eaton 2-9, Luke Porter 2-0, Erik Christensen 7-23, Dakota Stover 1-(2), Douglas Banks 3-7 SM rushing (top carriers): Matt Vigue 17-180, Austin Darling 6-48, Alwayne Uter 3-18 LR receiving: Quinn Piland 2-37 SM receiving: Matt Vigue 5-75, Alex White 1-40, Andrew Darling 1-1 LR tackles (solo, assist, total): Quinn Piland 5-1-6, Jay Justison 2-0-2, Zach Tidd 2-0-2, Donovan Eaton 5-0-5, Dylan Ladeau 0-2-2, Cody Gibbons 2-1-3, RJ Legere 0-2-2, Taylor Barker 0-1-1, Cam Harriman 3-0-3, Erik Christensen 1-0-1, Luke Porter 2-0-2, Marcus Devoe 1-0-1

BIG KICK RETURN — Lake Region junior Quinn Piland heads down the sideline, returning a kickoff for a touchdown. (Rivet Photo)
SPRUCE 52
LAKERS 13
First downs: LR 10, SM 13
Penalties: LR 2-10, SM 3-30
Rushing: LR 46-142, SM 33-258
Passing: LR 2-11-37, SM 7-12-116
Total offense: LR 1779, SM 374
LR rushing: Cody Gibbons 29-104, RJ Legere 2-1, Donovan Eaton 2-9, Luke Porter 2-0, Erik Christensen 7-23, Dakota Stover 1-(2), Douglas Banks 3-7
SM rushing (top carriers): Matt Vigue 17-180, Austin Darling 6-48, Alwayne Uter 3-18
LR receiving: Quinn Piland 2-37
SM receiving: Matt Vigue 5-75, Alex White 1-40, Andrew Darling 1-1
LR tackles (solo, assist, total): Quinn Piland 5-1-6, Jay Justison 2-0-2, Zach Tidd 2-0-2, Donovan Eaton 5-0-5, Dylan Ladeau 0-2-2, Cody Gibbons 2-1-3, RJ Legere 0-2-2, Taylor Barker 0-1-1, Cam Harriman 3-0-3, Erik Christensen 1-0-1, Luke Porter 2-0-2, Marcus Devoe 1-0-1

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

Spruce Mountain showed Friday night they can beat an opponent in many ways.

On the ground, speedy and shifty junior Matt Vigue rushed for 180 yards and two touchdowns.

By air, junior quarterback Peter Theriault tossed TD passes of 40, 15 and 12 yards en route to a 7-of-12 night and 116 yards.

On defense, the Phoenix picked off LR quarterback Douglas Banks four times, returning two for touchdowns as Spruce Mountain improved to 6-1 with a 52-13 victory at Art Kilborn Athletic Complex.

The Lakers did play with more aggression and spirit this week, but were simply unable to match the “athleticism” of the Phoenix.

“We challenged the kids all week and before the game to get back to Laker style of football and I think they did that. Physically, we matched them the entire game,” LR Coach Brian Jahna said. “We had some plays that showed we are really young. Athletically, we didn’t match up with them very well.”

Although LR senior running back Cody Gibbons cracked the 100-yard mark, those were all very tough yards to gain. The only LR scores came on a long kick-off return by Quinn Piland with 46 seconds left in the half, and a 80-yard fumble recovery and return for a touchdown by Gibbons with 6:10 remaining in the contest.

While the Lakers were able to trade solid pops against Spruce Mountain, the Phoenix — mainly Vigue and Theriault — had another gear that left LR defenders coming up empty in tackle attempts.

“We talked about their team speed all week. They are fast! Tremendous athletes,” Coach Jahna said. “It is hard at times to match up with that, especially when you have a lot of freshmen and sophomores playing in skill positions. They are still learning the game, and the difference between a senior and a freshman on the football field is a big deal, especially mentally because a senior has seen so much and can respond quicker and without a need for a coach telling you what to do.”

Spruce scored on their opening drive featuring Vigue. He carried the ball four times — 22, 7, 20 and 19 yards — for the score. He even went untouched over the left side for the 2-point conversion.

LR put together a solid drive with Gibbons gaining 12 for one first down, and Donovan Eaton surging for a yard on fourth down to keep the drive alive. But, the Phoenix defense dumped Gibbons for a 4-yard loss on a pitch play, forcing a punt.

LR held on the next Spruce possession as Eaton made two big stops.

Theriault was the recipient of a Doug Banks’ pass, which went through the hands of Lexus Rodriguez. A score, however, was erased when Spruce was whistled for an illegal block on the return. The penalty proved costly when Vigue fumbled, and LR lineman Dylan Ladeau recovered.

LR gave the ball back to Spruce when Banks’ toss down the deep sideline was underthrown, intended for Piland, and was intercepted by Andrew Darling.

Spruce fumbled again, this time recovered by LR linebacker Jay Justison.

On third down, Banks looked for tight-end Nick Hall, and the ball went off his fingertips into the hands of Theriault. This time, the Phoenix cashed in as Theriault hooked up with Alex White for a 40-yard TD pass for a 16-0 lead with 8:56 left until halftime.

“Two of the interceptions were great passes by Doug (Banks), but the ball went off the fingertips of our tight end and right to them. Athletically, they were able to turn the interceptions into big plays,” Coach Jahna said.

Theriault picked off Banks again, this time returning the ball 82-yards for a score. The INT ended a good-looking LR drive which Gibbons had picked up 12, 8 and 17 yards to move the ball into Phoenix territory.

Spruce addede another score with 1 minute left until the half as Theriault zipped a ball to the flat, where Vigue beat the LR defense down the sideline for a 15-yard score. The drive started at midfield. Theriault’s swing pass to Vigue gained 15 and Vigue then added a 16-yard run.

Down 32-0, junior Quinn Piland gave the home crowd something to cheer about with an electrifying kick-off return for a score with 46 seconds left. Marcus Devoe’s point-after was blocked.

Spruce scored on its first touch of the second half, again going with the quick toss to the flat with Vigue gaining 24 yards, then hauling in an identical toss two plays later for a 12-yard TD.

LR moved the ball well on the ground, twice reaching the SM-25, but was unable to finish the drives off.

Vigue was unstoppable to start the fourth. He rushed the ball for gains of 29, 17, 11, 10 and 9 to reach pay dirt and put the Phoenix up 45-6.

The Phoenix reserves also had some get-up-and-go. Austin Darling gained 23 yards to move the ball into Laker territory midway through the fourth quarter. But, a fumble was later scooped up by Cody Gibbons and returned for a TD.

Not to be out done, the Phoenix stole some of the Laker thunder when Alwayne Uter returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown to make it 52-13.

Although the Lakers fell far short on the scoreboard, Coach Jahna was proud of this club’s overall effort.

“I am so proud of these guys. Last week, I let them know I was not happy with the way we played football. Today, I was,” he said. “The score is what it is, but I couldn’t ask for more because they played hard, they stuck by each other, and they played physical to the end.”

Coach Jahna hopes his players learned a few things this season as to what separates clubs like Spruce, Yarmouth and Leavitt from them.

“The message is if we don’t get into the weight room in the off-season, we cannot compete with the top tier teams. We just cannot do it. Our younger guys are in there more than our older guys. We need to develop a culture in the weight room in the off-season,” Coach Jahna said. “Size does not get you push. Size occupies space, but we want to get vertical to the second level, and we have to have explosion from our line — that means stronger and quicker. Our weight-room work has been better, but it is not where it needs to be.”

Coach Jahna is encouraged by the growth of the program.

“We’re seeing an increase in interest, both at the high school where some guys who haven’t played in a few years have voiced they will likely return,” said Coach Jahna, who also expects more players transitioning from middle school to the high school. “We’re trying to create a culture that it feels good to be part of this team. I think the better it feels, more guys will want to be part of this team. I expect the numbers to continue to grow. We doubled our size from last year.”

The coach will look for his program to turn a corner next year.

“Once we become a junior-senior team, with a JV squad — something we haven’t had in two years, we had been trying to just survive — we will have a solid foundation and be able to compete with teams like Spruce,” he said.

Next: The Lakers close out their season Friday at Wells. Game time is 7 p.m.

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