By BILL STEWART
After watching Canby pummel Sprague two weeks ago, Lakeridge football coach Rob Kool was worried, and for good reason.
Next up for Canby was Lakeridge.
'After (scouting) the (Sprague) game, we were kind of looking at each other, going 'jimny Christmas, what are we getting ourselves into?'
Last Friday's season-opener for the Pacers was the kind of game that could make or break a season. Then, Kool's greatest fear was temporarily realized when Canby scored on the first offensive play of the game.
As it turned out, Canby should have been the team that was worried. All Lakeridge did after that was out-score a big, physical Canby team by 20 points en route to a decisive 41-28 non-league victory.
Despite being relatively inexperienced on offense (with only four starters returning from last season), the Pacers responded to that opening touchdown by Canby with a score of their own that took only five plays. That score came on a 49-yard pass from quarterback Robbie Kool to wide receiver Taylor Young and it set the tone for the rest of the game.
'At that point, I think our kids felt they could play. From then on, we played hard. We flew around,' coach Kool said.
Not long after the Kool-to-Young combination got Lakeridge on the board, the Pacers struck again. This time it was Young's younger brother, Zach, who got the call and he delivered a 38-yard touchdown run.
Canby managed to tie the game again (at 14-all) before the first quarter ended, but the second stanza belonged solely to Lakeridge. In that period, Robbie Kool and Taylor Young hooked up on two more scoring passes. The first one went for 21 yards and the second one covered 33, and Pacers never trailed after that.
Robbie Kool added an 8-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. Then, after a pair of Canby touchdowns, Lakeridge put the game away with a late scoring run by Zach Young.
In the end, Lakeridge simply had too many weapons for the host Cougars. Taylor Young finished with six catches for 122 yards and three touchdowns. Zach Young had 207 yards rushing and scored twice; and quarterback Kool added 123 yards rushing and was 11 of 19 passing for 197 yards.
'It was the three musketeers,' coach Kool said of his skilled threesome. 'They just really had big games. They made plays when they had to.'
In fact, they made so many plays that Canby had to realign its defense in an attempt to keep the musketeers under wraps. Nothing the Cougars did seemed to work, though. On the other hand, very little went wrong for Lakeridge.
'I felt we would have to score at least 28 points to win the game … But, did I think we would score that well in the opening game? No,' coach Kool said. 'Wow, our kids were really making some plays for us and it was a lot of fun to watch.'
Despite the convincing margin of victory, Kool was still singing Canby's praises after the game.
'For me, Canby is a top 10 team,' the coach said. 'They'll just be an absolute nightmare of a matchup.'
So where does that put Lakeridge, which is now ranked No. 15 in the state in the Associated Press poll?
'We're there also. But we still have the same issues that we've had the last two years - size and depth,' the coach said. '(But), by the end of the season, I think we could be a team that people don't want to play.'
Until then, coach Kool feels his team might have to prove itself a few more times.
'I think we still feel a little disrespected around the state,' coach Kool said. 'They read all of that Oregon Live stuff, and Taylor Young is not listed as a top 10 receiver (in the state) and Zach Young is not listed as a top 10 running back…'
'I kind of think (the players) will use that as a little motivation … I think they have a little chip on their shoulder. So they want to go far this year.'