Orion's playoffs cut short
November 02, 2011 - By Gabriel Ouzounian
Junior Jeremy King jumps to catch a pass from senior quarterback Sean Charette. Photo by G. Ouzounian (click for larger version)
Review Staff Writer
Lake Orion's postseason run ended as soon as it began on Oct. 28, with a 20-17 loss to Walled Lake Central in the first round of the Div. 1 state football playoffs.
According to Head Coach Chris Bell, the visiting Vikings capitalized on the Dragons' mistakes, blown opportunities and failure to execute key plays throughout the game, which led to the winning field goal for the visitors with only seconds left.
"We had several opportunities to win and failed to come through," Bell said. "We're all accountable."
The head coach said the playoff lost was indicative of how the team played this season, en route to a final 6-4 record (5-1 in the OAA Red).
"We were doing this same thing all year - penalties, turnovers and failures offensively and defensively. When we're close like that, we need seven points Ė not three. We also struggled getting them off the field on their third downs and failing to shut down their special teams. There were breakdowns all over the place."
The Dragons began the game slow and Walled Lake Central took advantage by controlling the clock on offense. The Vikings grabbed a 10-0 lead early in the second quarter on an interception thrown by senior Sean Charette that was returned for a touchdown.
Lake Orion came back to tie the game before the half, thanks to a one-yard plunge by junior running back Jacob Miller and a 34-yard field goal by junior kicker Jeremy King on the last play.
Walled Lake Central took the opening drive of the third quarter and scored its second touchdown of the game. The Dragons responded with their own scoring drive, capped by Charette sprinting eight yards for the tying touchdown.
With the score deadlocked at 17 a piece, the teams traded possessions in the fourth quarter with neither able to mount a serious drive. The key series of the game began about halfway through the period, when Lake Orion failed to pick up long yards on a fake punt.
With the clock winding down, Walled Lake Central took over in good field position and marched into Dragon territory.
Faced with its own fourth down with under two minutes to go, the Vikings' quarterback/ punter completed an improbable first-down catch inside the Dragon ten-yard-line. Soon after, Walled Lake Central's 20-yard field goal with five seconds remaining ended Lake Orion's season.
Charette finished the game 13-24, for 158 yards with the one interception. Jacob Miller led the Dragons in rushing with 75 yards on 14 carries. King caught five passes for 80 yards.
Lake Orion finished with 333 total yards on offense; Walled Lake Central gained a total of 281. The Vikings were 3 for 3 on fourth down conversions.
Despite the seaon-ending loss, Bell sees great potential for next year given the number of sophomores and juniors who played key roles on the 2011 team.
"A lot of young kids got good experience, but potential is only potential if they work, and work hard in the off season. I will have a better feel for next year's team when I see these guys doing stuff in the off season."
Bell was specifically referring to weight training, playing multiple sports, achieving high grades in school and being an exemplary member of the community as keys for development.
"If any of those aspects suffer, the team, too, will suffer," he said.
Bell did admit it will be a challenge to replace the skills and leadership provided by Charette, a four-year starter at quarterback.
"Charette's not replaceable," Bell said. "How do you describe him? We're not going to know how good we had it until he's gone."