Lake Orion runs to Homecoming victory
October 12, 2011 - Lake Orion took what Troy Athens gave them during the Oct. 7 Homecoming football game.
Junior Jacob Miller busts through a group of Troy Athens players. Photo by G. Ouzounian (click for larger version)
The Dragons rode their running attack for 428 yards and another victory, 28-14. The win gave them at least a share of the OAA Red title and qualified the team for the state playoffs.
"At this point in the season, there are no style points," said Head Coach Chris Bell. "You do what you have to do to win games. Troy Athens could not stop our running game in the second half, so we pounded it to eat the clock and keep their offense off the field."
That recipe worked, for Troy Athens had a total of 11 offensive plays in the second half.
Lake Orion jumped on top first, capitalizing on a short field and marching 50 yards, capped by junior running back Jacob Miller's four-yard run, putting the Dragons up 7-0, just five minutes into the game.
After a couple of uncharacteristic interceptions thwarted scoring chances for Lake Orion later in the half, the Red Hawks mounted a methodical 80-yard touchdown drive that tied the game 7-7 with only seconds left in the second quarter.
Bell said Troy Athen's size on the offensive line may have worn down the Lake Orion defense on the long drive to end the half.
"Our offense left points on the field during the first half and let them hang around," Bell said. "We dominated in all areas, but had little to show for it."
After making adjustments during the break, Lake Orion did not miss many opportunities in the third quarter. The offensive line continued to control the line of scrimmage, with the slot and wide receivers picking up downfield blocks that enabled running backs Miller (286 yards, three touchdowns) and sophomore Zack Arnold (66 yards, one touchdown) to punish Troy Athens.
"Our kids are starting to understand how to effectively run the football," Bell said. "It's a credit to all 11 guys on the field. Our offensive line played outstanding – it was probably their best game of the year."
Senior quarterback Sean Charette only threw the ball five times during the game, completing one pass for nine yards. "To Sean's credit, it's all about the win – he's not interested in individual stats," the head coach said. ""When others are rolling and the ground game is working he's very comfortable controlling the game that way."
Lake Orion's defense played another exceptional game, limiting the Red Hawks high-powered running game to only one big play, a 78-yard run with less than three minutes left. Troy Athens was held to 200 yards offense.
The Dragons' next opponent is Farmington Hills Harrison in the annual league cross-over game. Harrison, 7-0, currently is ranked No. 1 in the state and is ranked nationally. Last week, the Hawks beat Rochester Adams, 48-21.
The defending Division 2 state champions return eight starters on offense and seven on defense. The team is lead by quarterback Jake Vento, who also plays defensive back.
Bell said Harrison presents both a great challenge and a great opportunity for the Dragons.
"We're preparing like we're playing anybody else," he said. "We expect to compete and this will be a test. We're playing for a possible home playoff game and that's our motivation. It should be a great game and we're looking forward to it."
Joe St. Henry contributed to this story.