It is one of the most overused rallying cries in sports - the nobody-respects-us line.
But there is no doubt it fit at Lakeland High this year. Lacking the talent of past teams, Lakeland scraped by several Intermountain League football foes before getting throttled by champion St. Maries two weeks ago and losing to Lake City last week.
Well, respect this: Lakeland is going to the State A-2 playoffs after outgutting Moscow 21-14 on a frigid Friday night at Corbit Field.
The victory moved Lakeland to 4-1 in the IML and 5-4 overall, good for second place over Moscow’s 3-2 mark. The Hawks will travel to Weiser (outside of Boise) next Saturday in the A-2 playoffs.
“Just put this in the paper, because nobody has respect for us, we earned it and we won as a team,” said senior linebacker Cameron Napora, who played with a pinched nerve in his back and a bubble-like cast on his hand to protect a dislocated thumb that required surgery last Friday.
Napora was in on numerous tackles and he blocked a punt with 9 minutes remaining that set up Lakeland, trailing 14-13, at the Bears’ 24-yard line.
Lakeland soon faced fourth-and-1 at the 15, but sophomore quarterback Kurt Reese hit freshman Harrison Bertsch in the right flat for 8 yards. Two plays later, senior Randy Foote stormed in from the 5 and senior Casey Pluid hauled in the two-point conversion pass.
Pluid is another of the Hawks’ walking wounded. He hung out with Napora at the hospital last Friday because Pluid had broken his pinky finger. Friday, he snagged a 31-yard pass and ended the Bears’ final possession with an interception.
“We knew we were going to come in and do something,” said Pluid, who usually doesn’t play on defense but was inserted at cornerback just prior to his interception. “We’ve had our ups and downs, but we’re up now.”
Moscow was without two key running backs, Thomas Dirden (discipline) and Ryan Dudley (injury).
But far more painful for the Bears were costly penalties. A hold on Moscow’s initial possession stymied a promising drive and another Bears penalty contributed to Lakeland’s first TD march. With 5 minutes remaining, a flag erased Brad Stinebaugh’s 39-yard TD run.
The Bears (6-3 overall) overcame two flags to march 84 yards to tie the game at 7 midway through the second quarter.
“I thought Lakeland just played better,” Moscow coach Eric Bjorkman said. “We played the same way tonight we did in every game. We’re always trying to overcome the holds and the clips.”
Moscow moved on top 14-7 when Stinebaugh broke off right tackle and went 63 yards for a TD with 4:54 left in the third quarter.
But Lakeland responded with an 81-yard scoring drive that culminated in Reese’s 1-yard sneak. Pluid misfired on the point-after attempt and Lakeland trailed 14-13 late in the third quarter.
Enter Napora’s block, Foote’s TD run, Pluid’s interception - storybook stuff.
“We really haven’t been playing with a lot of emotion, but the kids came out and played with that little extra. That’s the difference between us being a so-so team and playing as well as we can,” said Lakeland coach Terry Kiefer. “It’s gratifying to me for the kids to be successful. …They’ve got great attitudes.”
And now, the Hawks have a little respect to go with it.
Lakeland 21, Moscow 14
Moscow 0 7 7 0 - 14
Lakeland 7 0 6 7 - 21
L-Phelps 9 pass from Reese (Pluid kick)
M-Pool 19 pass from Jenson (Miller kick)
M-Stinebaugh 63 run (Miller kick)
L-Reese 1 run (kick failed)
L-Foote 5 run (Pluid pass from Reese)
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