Lakewood defense has big second half as Cougars start 1-0

After struggling defensively much of last season, Lakewood football turned in a shutout second half against a bigger school, defeating Lakeside of Seattle 41-21 in the team’s first game of the season Sept. 4.

Freshman wide receiver Brandon Stott had a big game and even bigger first half, catching all three of his touchdown receptions before halftime to keep Lakewood close to the run-oriented 3A Seattle Metro school.

Lakewood coach Dan Teeter chalked up Lakeside’s 21 first-half points to some first-game jitters the team worked out in the locker room.

“We were making a few first-game mistakes and playing a little sloppy,” Teeter said. “We were also adjusting to what the offense was doing. We were playing pretty well, but were hurt by a couple of long runs on counters.”

Out of the second half, senior wide receiver Sam Johnston picked up his first touchdown of the season on a 40-yard pass from junior quarterback Justin Lane, who threw for all four of the Cougars’ passing scores.

Thanks to a fumble recovery by sophomore Christian Melton, returned for a touchdown, Lakewood took a two-score lead in the second half that Teeter credited with putting the game away against a rushing offense not designed to play catch-up.

Melton also ran for a one-yard touchdown, giving Lakewood a running game to help balance their potent passing attack with seven carries for 58 yards. It was the final score of the game, thanks to a second half shutout by the Lakewood defense.

The defensive line of Thomas Raught, Alex Wilson and Nathan Diggs shut down the middle and held the Lakeside running game in the second half.

“I was very happy to see the defense rise up and do such a tremendous job in the second half,” Teeter said. “A lot of credit goes to defensive coordinator Mitch Robbins and his defensive staff, and how they prepared the team.”

With a large turnout of sophomores and freshmen, Stott and Melton were just two underclassmen to make big contributions in Lakewood’s season opener. Stott totaled 141 yards on six receptions, two carries for 27 yards and a defensive fumble recovery. Freshman Adam Oppliger played defense and had an extra point in the win in Seattle. Another freshman, Justin Peterson did a little bit of everything with a reception for 12 yards, a series at quarterback, returning punts and playing some D.

On defense, Melton had two sacks to go with his fumble recovery, while defensive lineman Raught started at center and sophomores Jake Micheletti and Dustin Stanton lined up outside on offense and defense, Stanton picking up two catches for 20 yards.

“I’d say the brightest spot was that we came away with a victory and in good health,” Teeter said. “We made our share of mistakes, which will give us plenty to work on in the coming weeks, such as having too many penalties, but I was pleased with how we were able to run the ball when we wanted to run the clock in the fourth quarter.”

Lane was 18-for-34 passing with 282 yards and four touchdowns. Lakewood had 155 yards total rushing.

The boys return home to host Lynden Christian Sept. 11.

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