WARREN - Friday night's game between Lakeview and East was a study in contrast of offensive approaches.
The Bulldogs spread the field and attacked with a lot of misdirection and downfield passing, while the Panthers lined up two tight ends in front of a stacked I.
After 48 minutes, Lakeview proved the new school to be more successful in a 35-19 victory in a game hosted by East at Mollenkopf Stadium.
Lakeview’s Michael Mannella (35) gets blocks from Trevor Watson (71) and Brandon Bensing (28) on a fourth-quarter touchdown run against East.
"Not just Elijah (Henderson) and Anthony (Franco) had great games, but so did Ryan Scott and Austin Haines also had a heck of a game for us," Lakeview coach Tom Pavlansky said.
"I can't say enough about our guys up front - Jake Payton, Ryan Arndt, and A.J. Hrusovsky, and Trevor Watson and Zac Sicilian- those guys played their butt off. Trevor West also had a huge game, so we have some weapons - Mike Manella ran the ball well for us as well, so we have some weapons. That's why it works for us to spread the ball around."
In the opening moments of the game, it looked like the old-school ground and pound was going to be unstoppable. Running behind up-back Ramone Elkins and in front of tailback DD Fleeton, fullback George Leflore carried the ball five of the first six plays for a total of 92 yards. He ran exclusively dive plays, the last one a 20 scoring run.
The drive represented a restoring of order to the game which started with Lakeview recovering an onside kick. One play later, quarterback Anthony Franco floated a play-action pass down the left sideline for Elijah Henderson, but Valentino Sewell outjumped him, and came down with the interception.
"We were fortunate that the onside kick didn't hurt us because we made a great play on defense," East coach Brian Shaner said. "We settled things down when we got the ball back, and we were able to run the ball well - that's what we want to do, and for a lot of the game, we did it well."
The Panthers (3-6) went back on the march on their next possession, which was given life by a Lakeview roughing-the-punter penalty, but Leflore fumbled into the hands Haines on the East 41.
Lakeview (5-4) appeared to score on and end-around to Henderson, but a holding penalty pushed the Bulldogs back to the 24. Eventually the Bulldogs found themselves in a third-and-goal from the 24, but Franco found Haines on one-one-one coverage down the left sideline for a touchdown. Lakeview's kick failed, and the score was tied at 6-6.
Leflore went right back to work and capped a nine-play drive when he ran a dive play to the right for a 23-yard score that, after the extra point, gave the Panthers the 13-7 lead.
Lakeview's next drive ended when East's DD Fleeton jumped in front of a crossing pattern and picked off a Franco pass.
Not to be outdone, 8 p1ays later, Henderson picked off a Rayshawn Johnson pass intended for a receiver running a wheel rout, and returned it 50 yards for a touchdown.
"That was huge - it changed the momentum a little bit," Pavlansky said. "Any time you score on defense and special teams, that's a huge part of the game."
The Bulldogs seized the momentum, and never relenquished the lead.