‘They beat us up’ — Poland hammers Lakers, 42-0

GUNNAR HARRIMAN (left) tries to shake the tackle attempt by Poland's Will Bernier during first half action Friday night. POLAND 42 LAKERS 0 First Downs: LR 9, POL 15 Penalties: LR 1-5, POL 6-45 Turnovers: LR 4, POL 2 Rushing: LR 34-119, POL 33-310 Individuals: LR, Gunnar Harriman 14-49, Kyle DeSouza 12-61, Doug Banks 5-minus 2, Cole Jakobs 3-11; POL, Robbie Porter 8-94, Will Bernier 4-75, Adam Mocciola 4-2, Nick Cote 6-51, Kaleb Irizarry 4-20, Patrick Jacques 7-68. Passing: LR 3-12-7; POL 4-7-97 Total Offense: LR 131, POL 407 LR tackles (assist, solo, total): Marcus Devoe 2-3-5, Cole Jakobs 0-3-3, Quinn Piland 3-3-6, Todd Crawford 2-1-3, Nick Hall 2-3-5, Zach Clark 1-0-1, Jay Justason 0-3-3, Kyle DeSouza 1-4-5, Paul Angelone 1-3-4, Dylan Ladeau 0-1-1.

GUNNAR HARRIMAN (left) tries to shake the tackle attempt by Poland's Will Bernier during first half action Friday night.
POLAND 42
LAKERS 0
First Downs: LR 9, POL 15
Penalties: LR 1-5, POL 6-45
Turnovers: LR 4, POL 2
Rushing: LR 34-119, POL 33-310
Individuals: LR, Gunnar Harriman 14-49, Kyle DeSouza 12-61, Doug Banks 5-minus 2, Cole Jakobs 3-11; POL, Robbie Porter 8-94, Will Bernier 4-75, Adam Mocciola 4-2, Nick Cote 6-51, Kaleb Irizarry 4-20, Patrick Jacques 7-68.
Passing: LR 3-12-7; POL 4-7-97
Total Offense: LR 131, POL 407
LR tackles (assist, solo, total): Marcus Devoe 2-3-5, Cole Jakobs 0-3-3, Quinn Piland 3-3-6, Todd Crawford 2-1-3, Nick Hall 2-3-5, Zach Clark 1-0-1, Jay Justason 0-3-3, Kyle DeSouza 1-4-5, Paul Angelone 1-3-4, Dylan Ladeau 0-1-1.

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

Brian Jahna didn’t need to see a stat sheet to sum up how Poland whipped his Lake Region football team 42-0 Friday night.

“They beat us up all night,” the head coach said following the season opener at Art Kilborn Athletic Complex.

He was absolutely right.

Unable to remotely stop the hard charging Knight front line, the Lakers were 3-of-12 passing the ball for a mere seven yards and one interception. Starting quarterback Doug Banks went 1-for-9 with minus five yards (courtesy of two lateral passes, one resulting in a turnover as a Knight defender beat intended target Quinn Piland to the loose ball and another for a six-yard loss) rarely had time to survey the Knight secondary. He often settled for deep sideline passes, failing to connect on one (again, a ball was dropped).

“Offensively, it is looking a lot different than what we are drawing up. The quarterbacks are making some simple reads, but not necessarily the right reads. They didn’t have a whole lot of time to make the reads. We’re running a variety of routes, but we’re not getting the ball there,” the coach said. “They had great pressure. They beat us up the middle all night long. That was the game.”

Meanwhile, the Knights were an offensive juggernaut. Robbie Porter was a bulldozer, but with a quick gear for a 5-foot-9, 245-pound running back. He rushed for 94 yards on eight carries.

LR was unable to stack the middle because the Knights unleashed their lightning package with Will Bernier (4-75), Nick Cote (6-51) and Patrick Jacques (7-68) all possessing quick cutting ability and breakaway speed. Poland pounded the ball on the ground for 310 yards and added another 97 yards through the air.

“It wasn’t so much their speed, but their strength that we had trouble with. They were stronger than we expected. We heard they were in the weight room all summer, and it showed here tonight,” Coach Jahna said. “They are a solid football team. Poland is going to be a team that will surprise some folks. They are strong up front.”

Lake Region was also hurt by several starters missing the game due to academic ineligibility.

“We are still a young team with a number of freshmen playing and a couple of sophomores. It is hard to compete because of our lack of depth (several players are academically ineligible),” the coach said. “The biggest difference is we don’t have our full team, which means we don’t have the right people in the right spots. The team we put out during the exhibition game (against Fryeburg) is different than the one you saw tonight. They beat us up all night. You can’t strategize against that. I expected a dog fight, but I didn’t expect that.”

Bernier set up Poland’s first score with a long punt return to the LR-19. Two plays later, Porter bulled into the end zone with just under three minutes off the game clock. A point-after run failed.

A LR turnover gave the Knights great field position with 2:28 left. Porter rumbled 22 yards off tackle with Marcus Devoe making a saving stop just shy of the goal line. After Zach Clark made a big hit on a play up the middle for no gain, Poland hit pay dirt with Andrew Demers. Cote’s two-point run on a pitch play to the right increased the Poland lead to 14-0.

The Knights capitalized on a LR fumble, driving 44 yards on four plays with Jacques scoring from 14 yards out just seconds into the second quarter.

If the Lakers had a bright spot, it was the tough inside running by senior Kyle DeSouza. Of the Lakers’ nine first downs, DeSouza picked up four of them (LR had one gift first down as the result of a Knight penalty). He gave the Lakers some breathing room with a 21-yard burst, giving his club and fans a little something to cheer about despite the 21-0 glowing on the scoreboard. DeSouza plowed ahead for six yards on a fourth down call at the LR-43 to keep the drive alive.

But, a ball underthrown along the sideline was picked off by Jacques to stop the LR advance.

Two plays later, Poland was celebrating in the end zone once again. Adam Mocciola (4-of-6 passing) completed a sideline ball to Cote, who slipped a tackle and zipped 60 yards to the LR-16. Porter finished it off on the next play to make it 27-0. The PAT was good.

Although the Knights turned the ball over on a fumble recovery by senior lineman Dylan Ladeau, Poland added one final score with Bernier ripping off 22- and 30-yard runs, and Mocciola hooking up with Bernier for a 20-yard TD strike with 40.4 seconds. The PAT was good for a 35-0 lead.

Poland closed out its scoring by taking the opening drive of the second half and marching 58 yards in 10 plays, with Cote finding space off tackle for a nine-yard TD run.

Devoe stopped another potential scoring drive, recovering a fumble off a mishandled toss at the LR-8.

On their 11th drive of the game, the Lakers finally entered Poland’s side of the field as Gunnar Harriman picked up nine yards. After quarterback Cole Jakobs completed a nine-yard toss to Piland, DeSouza hit a hole hard and gained 10 yards. Harriman’s three-yard scoot put the ball in the red zone. An interference call on a pass targeted for tight-end Nick Hall placed the ball at the P-9 with 39.9 ticks left.

But, Poland refused to budge. A pitch was fumbled and recovered by the Knights, capping off a very frustrating night for the home team.

“What I didn’t expect was them being that much stronger than us. It’s hard to fix that now. We had just three or four kids show up consistently in the summer, and some times, no one came. The most we had were eight or nine. Until that changes, we’re going to have some nights like this,” Coach Jahna said. “We’ll work on our technique and being physical, but that strength comes in the off-season work. We’ll just look to get better.”

Next: The Lakers travel to Rumford this Friday night to meet the Falcons at 7 p.m. Mountain Valley lost their opener on the road against Wells 49-14. The Falcons will look to avenge a loss to the Lakers last season.

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