Young brothers, Kool explode for 523 yards
Putnam might have needed to use 12 or 13 guys on defense to have any chance of stopping Lakeridge's powerful offense last Friday night.
Instead, with Putnam using the required 11 defenders, Lakeridge turned homecoming night into a virtual track meet as the Pacers rolled to an easy 41-7 victory over the Kingsmen.
It was a game that Lakeridge (3-1, 5-2) had to win to stay alive in the chase for a Three Rivers League title.
'I thought we took our game to the next level tonight,' Lakeridge coach Rob Kool said.
'Do we want to be a playoff contender or a playoff pretender?' the coach asked. 'If we're going to be a playoff contender, I thought we needed to come out and play well against a pretty good football team. I thought we kind of controlled the entire game.'
Lakeridge's renowned threesome of quarterback Robbie Kool, receiver Taylor Young and running back Zach Young had a hand in all but 28 of the Pacers' 551 total yards.
For starters, Taylor Young, a senior, caught 10 passes for 217 yards and added another 16 yards rushing. He also had three touchdowns, including one through the air, one on the ground and another on an interception return.
Zach Young, a junior, had 103 yards rushing on 19 carries. He also scored three touchdowns, all on the ground. Plus, senior tight end Jeff Hutchens, who has played a much bigger role in recent games, had four receptions for 94 yards.
Not to be outdone, Kool, a junior, completed 17 of 22 passes for 338 yards. He also rushed 13 times for 66 yards.
If you were Putnam's defensive coordinator, it would have been enough to give you a migraine headache.
'We've got three or four kids, that if you don't wrap them up, they can take it to the house,' coach Kool said. 'When we spread it out … it makes it difficult to defend everything.'
As it turned out, Putnam was unable to take anything away from the Pacers.
'Yeah, I guess that's what you could say,' Zach Young said. 'They played hard but we were just a better team.'
The host team set the tone by scoring on its first possession, which took just five plays while covering 84 yards. The drive ended with a 16-yard scoring toss from Robbie Kool to Taylor Young.
The Pacers struck again early in the second quarter on a 10-yard scoring run by Zach Young. A blocked extra-point attempt left the score 13-0. Lakeridge then began to pull away when Taylor Young scored on a 15-yard reverse just before half to make it 20-0.
By then, Kool had already thrown for 212 yards and 152 of them went to Taylor Young, including 60 on a shovel pass that set up his brother's first touchdown.
'We got great blocking from the line and the receivers downfield picked up a block. It made things happen,' Taylor Young said of his big play.
'Everybody made big plays,'
Zach Young said. 'Jeff (Hutchens) stepped up. The linemen played well and Taylor made a bunch of big plays.'
Zach Young then added two more touchdown runs, including an 11-yarder early in the third quarter and a one-yarder early in the fourth period, to make it 34-0.
The Kingsmen got their lone score midway through the final stanza on a three-yard run by backup running back Max Hoffman. He carried six times on that drive for 42 yards.
Taylor Young then capped the scoring with a 38-yard interception return when it looked like he was the intended receiver. It was an exclamation point on another big night for one of the best receivers in the state.
'I'll say this every single time … it's the line that gets it done. We ride on their backs,' Taylor Young said.
Almost overlooked in the game was the effort turned in by the Lakeridge defense, which nearly pitched a shutout against an explosive Putnam offense.
'It was the defense's coming out party,' Taylor Young boasted after the game.
With the victory, Lakeridge assured itself a post-season berth.
'That was definitely a big win. Now we're in the playoffs for sure,' Zach Young said.
The Pacers had only one blemish in the game - the 12 penalties that were called for 110 yards. In fact, it's a problem that has cropped up multiple times this season.
'Gosh darn it, hopefully that won't happen again, especially against a good football team,' coach Kool said. 'We were lucky to get away with that tonight.'
Meanwhile, the best news of the night came not from the offense or the defense but from a team of doctors who attended to Lakeridge linebacker Tanner Janney after he suffered a hard hit to the head.
The game was stopped for several minutes as Janney was strapped to a back board to stabilize his head and neck. He was then taken by ambulance to a local hospital, where doctors determined that the linebacker did not suffer any serious injuries. He was released from the hospital before the game ended.