LAKEWOOD RANCH — Last week, the Mustangs endured what can only be described as one of their worst weeks of practice.
Coming off a disappointing 43-14 loss to the Pirates, Lakewood Ranch headed back to practice, looking to cleanup the mistakes that cost the Mustangs on both sides of the ball. But before Lakewood could work on squaring up its tackles and controlling the line of scrimmage, the team was hit with a flu virus that left the Mustangs’ locker room reeling and forced many of the players to watch practice from the sidelines.
So heading into Friday night’s home-opener against Southeast, it was anyone’s guess as to how the Mustangs would respond and ultimately how many would actually be able to make it through all four quarters.
“We had a lot of kids that were sick,” coach Shawn Trent said. “We had a lot of kids that were here every day at practice, but couldn’t participate in practice because we have kind of a flu bug that we’re still fighting a little bit. Some of those kids had to grow up a lot.”
But when the game finally got underway, the Mustangs appeared to forget all about the ailments that had plagued them all week at practice and instead set out to prove to everyone that they were in fact ready to play.
Lakewood took an early lead on a touchdown run by Taryn Laws, who rushed for more than 100 yards on the night, and never let up as the Mustangs posted a stunning 20-16 victory over the Seminoles.
“I think we just totally forgot about (being sick) once we started,” safety Danny Zarrella said. “Our defense was just playing really well and our offense was moving the ball and running it right down their throat. I think just the momentum kept us all going and we didn’t think about being sick at all.”
Lakewood jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the second quarter on a quarterback keeper by Reggie Lindsey. The Mustangs all but sealed the game in the third quarter when Zarrella recovered a fumble on a Southeast punt and ran the ball in for a 33-yard score to extend the Mustangs lead to 20-3.
“Southeast — that’s also one of our rivals, so it’s nice to get a big win like that,” Zarrella said. “I just think people respect you more if you actually win. It was just nice to win.”
After beating Southeast at home two years and falling to the Seminoles 14-3 last year ago, many expected Southeast to come in and dominate. But Lakewood wasn’t about to fold under the pressure, and in doing so the Mustangs came out of the locker room with authority and put on one of their best performances despite also having to fight off the flu.
“It’s not like they really beat us (badly before),” Trent said. “I don’t think it was a stretch to get the kids to believe that we could beat them.”
Lakewood will return to action Sept. 17 when the team travels to East Lee County High in Lehigh Acres. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
Contact Jen Blanco at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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