Lakeland High’s football team continued two impressive streaks - one spanning decades, the other seven days.
The Hawks, who haven’t lost to Priest River since 1975, dominated the Spartans early and coasted to a 33-6 Intermountain League win Friday night. Lakeland spoiled the Spartans’ homecoming a week after doing the same thing to Coeur d’Alene’s.
Lakeland scored on three of its first four possessions to take control of a game many expected to be close. The Hawks, 3-1-1 overall and 2-0 in the IML, have a homecoming date of their own against Bonners Ferry next Friday. Priest River, ranked No. 5 in the State A-2 poll, is 5-1, 2-1.
“We thought we’d give them a better game than that, but when you have two interceptions, two fumbles and more penalties than I can remember, you can’t compete with the big boys,” Priest River coach Norm Stark said.
Certainly some of the Spartans’ misery was self inflicted, but Lakeland was nearly flawless in building a 20-0 lead barely into the second quarter.
“They had, what, two penalties?” Stark said. “Their execution was beautiful, fantastic.”
That applies to Lakeland’s offense and defense.
Taylor Skidmore caught two long touchdown passes from Kurt Reese and the Hawks rushed for 151 yards, despite losing starting running back/ linebacker Harrison Bertsch to a knee injury in the first quarter.
Priest River didn’t earn its initial first down until midway through the second quarter. The Spartans finished with 56 yards passing and 79 on the ground.
“Priest River has a good ball team but we got up early on them and it took the wind out of their sails,” said Hawks coach Terry Kiefer, whose lines ruled the line of scrimmage.
After one quarter, Lakeland had 124 yards to Priest River’s 15. The scoreboard reflected the disparity.
Reese found Skidmore wide open over the middle for a 40-yard touchdown and Lakeland led 7-0 6 minutes into the first quarter.
Taking advantage of favorable field position throughout the half, Lakeland’s next possession began at the Spartans’ 49. One play after Bertsch limped off, Jason Hindberg scooted 15 yards for a 14-0 lead.
The Hawks’ Derek Felton intercepted a pass seconds later and returned the ball to Priest River’s 31. Reese eventually scored from the 5.
The Spartans pulled within 20-6 late in the third quarter with an impressive 12-play, 79-yard drive. Quarterback Jeff Griesemer, after completing just one pass in the first half, had three connections for 35 yards. Allen Rogers bulled into the end zone from the 4.
Jake Stark’s interception gave the Spartans a crack at narrowing the deficit. But consecutive penalties pushed Priest River back from Lakeland’s 38 to its own 43. The Spartans were forced to punt, pinning Lakeland at the 4.
The Hawks produced a first down and then the backbreaker. Skidmore again escaped the Spartans’ run-conscious defense and hauled in a pass for an 84-yard scoring play.
“That’s one of our favorite plays,” Skidmore said. “We ran it twice and it worked twice.”
Stark was doubly aggravated because his Spartans had prepared for the very plays they were burned by.
Lakeland 33, Priest River 6
Lakeland 14 6 0 13 - 33
Priest River 0 0 6 0 - 6
L - Skidmore 40 pass from Reese (Van Valin kick) L - Hindberg 15 run (Van Valin kick) L - Reese 5 run (kick failed) P - Rogers 4 run (kick failed) L - Skidmore 84 pass from Reese (run failed) L - Stutheit 1 run (Van Valin kick)