Last week, the Lansing Lions walked into a buzz saw at Mill Valley and came out with a 68-8 loss.
If Mill Valley was the cordwood saw, Bishop Miege is the miter. Either way, the result was the same, a 52-12 loss.
“I don’t know how that game [between Mill Valley and Miege] will come out,” said Lions head coach Bill Pekarek. “I think Mill Valley’s pretty tough.”
For the Lions, it’s farewell to a 4-6 season marked by a nearly record-breaking passing attack that was occasionally held back by turnovers, and a defense that struggled much of the year.
“We had the offense to win in every game except these last two,” Pekarek said. “But our defense couldn’t stop anybody. We had five or six guys playing defense this year that weren’t even in our program a year ago.”
Pekarek added that the players still kept fighting.
“Our kids play hard though,” Pekarek said. “It’s hard to keep going 100 percent [in a blowout], but they did OK with that.”
Lansing moved the ball in the first and early second quarter, but couldn’t reach pay dirt.
They were intercepted on one drive in Miege territory, and then gave it up on downs inside the red zone on the following two drives.
The Lions defense, for all its struggles, held their own early on. They forced a punt and a turnover on downs after Miege scored on its opening drive.
It was only 14-0 early into the second quarter.
The Lions offense grinded to a complete halt, going three-and-out on three consecutive possessions.
They also had to punt into the wind, which set Miege up nicely for four scores in the quarter, including a punt return for a touchdown.
The Stags put their backups in before halftime. For a team that was the 5A state runner-up last year, there are lots of games where putting in the backups is a question of when, not if.
The remaining intrigue in the second half was whether Khalil Bailey would break the state receiving record. But Bailey was barely targeted as the Lions turned to the running game.
The senior wide out sat at 1,405 yards coming in Friday and needed 138 yards on Friday to take the record.
He finished with a quiet night, pulling in a couple catches but not breaking the 100-yard mark, or the record.
“It was frustrating [not to have a chance to break the record], but in the end it’s a great thing to have that many yards in a season and help my team out,” Bailey said.
When asked why they ran instead of throwing in the second half, Pekarek said they had tried to throw early, but receivers were dropping lots of balls.
Page 2 of 2 - None of the drops were Bailey’s, however.
Graduating from the football program along with Bailey are Hector Porter, Ben Johnson, Mason Naphy, Cole Howard, Marcus Herron, Jeff Beck, Anfernee Anderson, Ben Plotner, and Nick Flinner.
The last week has been emotional for the seniors.
“We’re all a family, and we always will be,” defensive lineman Mason Naphy said.
“This is a great group of guys that I’ve loved playing with a lot,” linebacker/fullback Hector Porter said. “My best experience has been the team bonding. I’ve never had a lot of brothers so I love having a lot of brothers around me.”
Many of the seniors seemed to agree that their favorite game was earlier this year when they finally beat Basehor-Linwood after losing to them the last three years.
Lansing will take the field again next year and look to build around current junior quarterback Krystian Abbott, running back Collin McQuillan, and wide receiver Kenneth Banks, among others.
“We’ll take a look at the personnel this offseason and see what we try to do next year,” Pekarek said.