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Lakers bottle up Bothell

by: Vern Uyetake, Lake Oswego’s Will Darkins looks for running room during last Friday’s game against Bothell (Wash.) at PGE Park. After a scoreless first quarter, the Lakers broke lose for 28 second-quarter points. Lake Oswego went on to score 41 unanswered points en route to a 48-22 victory over the Cougars.

Lake Oswego appeared to be in midseason form when the highly-touted Lakers rolled to a 48-22 victory over Bothell (Wash.) last Friday night at PGE Park.

In typical Lake Oswego fashion, the Lakers' defense played just as big of a roll as the team's offense in the season-opening victory. The hard-hitting Lakers, who went 12-1 last season, scored twice on second-quarter fumble returns, but that only accounted for half of the touchdowns Lake Oswego scored in the period.

'I think the speed of the game was something that was overwhelming for (Bothell) at first,' Lake Oswego coach Steve Coury said. 'They never had a chance to settle in after that.'

The scoring outburst came after a first quarter that contained plenty of action but no scoring. In that period, the Lakers had a 65-yard drive that ended in a missed 34-yard field-goal attempt. Bothell followed by driving past midfield before fumbling the ball away on the last play of the quarter. Then the action started.

One play later, Lake Oswego quarterback Duncan White found split end Franklin Forward alone down the left sideline, and Forward scored easily on a 60-yard reception to make it 7-0.

The visiting Cougars were on the move again when they advanced to midfield on their next possession. But the Lakers got the ball back when linebacker Christian Dunham's hard sack resulted in a fumble by Bothell quarterback Cody Atkinson. Laker defensive end Ryan Shepherd scooped up the ball on the bounce and rambled 51 yards untouched to put Lake Oswego ahead 14-0 lead with 9:43 left in the second period.

Lake Oswego's defense struck again just three plays later when an all-out blitz knocked the ball loose from Atkinson. Laker nose guard Nate Morse picked up the ball and ran 19 yards for the score to put Lake Oswego ahead 20-0.

In a span of exactly a minute, the Lakers recorded two defensive touchdowns.

'It's rare when you have that happen,' Coury said.

Late in the second quarter, a Laker drive appeared to have stalled at the Bothell 29. Rather than attempt a long field goal on fourth and 10, Coury opted to keep his offense on the field. It proved to be a good choice as White found receiver Eric Mann deep in the Cougars' secondary. After making the catch, Mann broke two tackles to score the Lakers' fourth touchdown of the period.

Lake Oswego kept its run going by scoring again just three plays into the third quarter. This time it was slotback Jon Dulong who got behind the Bothell secondary, and he went 67 yards with another scoring pass from White.

It was the third touchdown pass of the night for White, who was starting his first varsity game. He also threw for 274 yards while completing 9 of 17 passes.

'He played about the way I thought he would,' Coury said of his senior quarterback. 'I loved his demeanor. For a first game, he handled it like a veteran.'

The lead was then 41-0 when backup running back Sam Buckingham run 13 yards around left end for a score midway through the third quarter. With the game out of hand early, Buckingham saw considerable action in the second half and he wound up with 13 carries for 34 yards. Senior running back Will Darkins led the Lakers' rushing attack with eight carries for 53 yards.

After struggling through the first three quarters, Bothell finally got on the board early in the fourth quarter when John Kirschner outran the Lake Oswego secondary down the left sideline for a 64-yard touchdown. Because of that run, Kirschner wound up being the game's leading rusher with 106 yards.

Four minutes later, Bothell scored again on a one-yard run by Luke Jones to cut the Lakers' lead to 41-15.

Lake Oswego backup quarterback Anthony Culver capped the Lakers' scoring by scrambling for a 44-yard touchdown with 4:30 left in the contest.

So many Lakers played well in their season opener that Coury could have given a symbolic game ball to any one of a dozen or more players.

'A lot of kids played well,' the coach acknowledged. 'But the exciting thing is they're going to get better … We're going to be pretty good, regardless of what happens these next two weeks.'

Of course, Coury was alluding to Lake Oswego's grueling non-league schedule, which includes a contest against Southridge on Friday and a game at Jesuit next week.

Southridge, which won the Metro League title last year, has a lot of skill players that worry Coury.

'We've got to try to keep them off the field, because they've got some weapons on offense,' the coach said.