Falling to the champs
Chargers defeat Cavaliers, claim division title
In some ways, there was nothing really at stake for Lackey’s football team when it traveled to Calvert on Friday night. The Chargers had already clinched a spot in the Class 1A South Region playoff field and the right to host their playoff opener.
But a win on Friday coupled with a Westlake win over La Plata would earn Lackey the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference Chesapeake Division title.
The Chargers delivered on their end, defeating Calvert 35-10 in a SMAC Chesapeake contest, while Westlake came through on the other end by taking down La Plata 21-12 to allow Lackey to earn the division championship. The Chargers also earned the top seed in the 1A South and will open the postseason
at home at 7 p.m. against Surrattsville of Prince George’s County.
“We played well,” Lackey head coach John Lush said of the performance against Calvert. “We didn’t play as well defensively early. We made some adjustments. Offensively, we said we wanted to throw the ball 10 times. We’re running the ball effectively the past couple weeks, but last year we didn’t have that second gear. We played Patuxent [in the playoffs] and couldn’t throw the ball. So we’ve put a lot of emphasis on that and made some strides here and there. We’ve still got some work to do, but we have to pick up that part of our game.”
Lackey’s efforts to be multi-dimensional paid some dividends versus Calvert on Friday, as quarterback Robert Middleton completed 5 of 10 passes for 95 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
“I feel like we played great,” Middleton said. “We stayed together and got the job done. It’s just the first step. Next week we have to go to practice and work hard so we can get the firstround dub.”
Lackey (8-2, 5-1 SMAC Chesapeake) opened up a 21-10 lead through the first half against Calvert (3-7, 1-5). Jordan Bryant took a kickoff back the distance to get the Chargers on top early, while Jayson Wilmer scored a rushing touchdown and Jordan Carter caught Middleton’s first touchdown pass to account for all of the visitors’ first-half scoring.
The Cavaliers managed to
hang in the game in the first half, scoring with Kevin Pitcher’s field goal in the first quarter and a TJ Prather touchdown run in the second quarter. But the Chargers defense stiffened in the second half, while Middleton’s 34-yard touchdown pass to James Wilkerson late in the third quarter increased Lackey’s lead to 28-10. Middleton then did the honors himself on Lackey’s final scoring drive, reaching the end zone on a 5-yard run with 10 minutes 52 seconds remaining to cap the scoring.
It was a tough end for Calvert, which a year ago won the 2A South Region championship with a senior-laden group. This year’s team was competitive, but struggled to end up on the winning side while going through some expected growing pains.
“For us it’s pretty heartwrenching because you know what those guys are feeling,” Calvert head coach Rick Sneade said. “When you know you’ve played your last game and there is no more football left ... for me it was one of the top 5 worst feelings I’ve had. But I have the luxury of getting to go out there and coach each week every season, and we get to spend time with these kids and kind of re-live our dreams vicariously through our players. There’s a great deal of joy when we get to see them go out there and do what they do. I know they’re going to be able to do that one day, too. It may not be through coaching football, but it’s going to be through something. They’re going to go out and have a great impact on the world. Those dreams and the things
that they achieved here on the football field will have a big part in how successful they are in life.”
For Lackey, the season marches on. Competing in the 2A South a year ago, the Chargers were eliminated in the postseason’s first week in a 28-14 loss at Patuxent. Now in the 1A South, Lackey will look for a longer playoff stay, opening with Surrattsville with a potential clash with Douglass, of Prince George’s County, looming in the regional final.
“It’s exciting,” Lush said. “It’s the playoffs and anything can happen.”
“If we just stay together, I believe in our team,” Middleton said. “We have to catch passes, I need to get better drops, but if we work on it, we’re going to do good things.”
Calvert’s TJ Prather runs in the open field during the Cavaliers’ game with the visiting Lackey Chargers on Friday night. Lackey defeated Calvert 35-10.