Eagles felt team came together in first-ever district victory

Posted Monday, Oct. 28, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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In a season of milestones, the Lake Ridge football team achieved another last Friday night with a 38-35 win over Waxahachie. It was the school’s first-ever district win. Now in its second year, the program is starting to reap the rewards of the approach it has taken – which has required plenty of hard work and patience.

“It felt really good because we worked so hard through the offseason,” senior Michael Roland said. “We lost some games by just a few points and that’s been emotionally tough on us, but when we can get our offense and defense and special teams all working together, it comes out like it did this past Friday.”

The Eagles win over Waxahachie was quite a turnaround from last season’s result, when the Indians beat Lake Ridge by 77 points. It’s been similar with other opponents as well. Lake Ridge isn’t to be mistaken for a door mat any longer, and the visible signs of improvement are inspiring the team and the student body.

“Everybody wants to win, but just the fact we can hang with people this year after getting beat 77-0 last year, stuff like that makes it a lot better experience,” Roland said.

“Last year, people used to ask us if we were going to win, just kind of mocking us. But this year, they ask the same question and they really want to know if we think we have a chance of winning, because they want to come out and watch the game. It gives the students something to be proud of – the progress.”

“It’s fun for our kids,” head coach Kirk Thor said. “We’ve been so close in a lot of games. We lost some one-point and three-point games, so it was nice to be ahead at the end of the game. Our kids were excited about it. I was excited that our kids didn’t quit. It was a back-and-forth game. We had to score with a minute and a half left and then our defense had to stop them on two big plays.”

Indeed, the Eagles had to earn this landmark victory. With Lake Ridge leading 31-28 late in the game, Indians running back Isiah Parrish broke loose for an 85-yard touchdown run to give Waxahachie a 35-31 lead with just over a minute and a half remaining. But it was plenty of time for quarterback Jett Duffy and the Eagles offense.

“Offensively, we snap the ball so fast that we feel like if we have a minute and a half left, we have a lot of time, if we can execute. So time wasn’t so much a factor to us,” Thor said.

Duffy engineered a scoring drive that took less than a minute. Duke Carter plowed in from a yard out with 39 seconds left to regain the lead at 38-35. But the defense still had to stave off a desperate Indians comeback, which it did.

“With 39 seconds left, our defense came out and played well and stopped them when we had to in order to keep them out of field goal range and out of the end zone. So I thought that was good for our kids,” Thor said.

Thor also pointed out that special teams, including several plays by Roland, were a significant part of the win.

“He had some great tackles on special teams for us that saved us a lot of yardage. And sometimes that’s stuff you don’t think about,” he said.

“Taylor Lampe, our kicker, did a nice job of punting and kicking,” Thor added. “Sometimes those things aren’t really noticed in the game, but those were probably the biggest factors we had to winning that game. Hidden things that gained a lot yardage really helped our offense and defense.”

With a Thursday district game against Arlington Seguin, this will be a shorter week for the Eagles, and probably a much more enjoyable one.

“I do think that when you win a close game like that, as opposed to losing a close game, the whole week is shorter,” Thor said. “The practices seem shorter. When you compete hard and lose close games like we have, it’s draining on you. So going into next week, I think our kids will approach it the same as we’ve always done, but it’ll be a little more fun this week because they know they’ve won a game and they’ve won a close game.”

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