By Josh Beavers
These are the hardest to take.
Even though the visiting Arcadia Hornets put up 26 points, the Lakeside Warriors’ defense dominated the opening game of the 2023 high school football season. Yet, mistakes by the offense and very questionable late-game calls by the refs resulted in a 26-14 home defeat for Lakeside.
Let’s just get the bad out of the way first.
Arcadia scored four touchdowns. Two of them were made by their defense. Early in the first and late in the fourth, Arcadia defensive backs took advantage of Warrior turnovers to put points on the board. The first was a pick-six and the second was a scoop and score. The last one was the proverbial nail in the coffin.
The other two scores came on very short fields following mishaps by the Lakeside offense. There was little the defensive players could do with their backs against the wall of their own endzone.
To make matters worse, calls from the officiating crew (which was a point of much contention in last year’s loss to Arcadia) were fair and balanced the entire evening until the final few moments of the game.
It is generally considered lowbrow and unsportsmanlike to blame a loss on referees, and that’s not what this writer is doing. Arcadia was likely to win no matter the series of unfortunate events that transpired over the course of the last three minutes of play. However, a very questionable personal foul call killed a Lakeside tackle for loss that would have been a turnover on downs. There were two others – one a call and the other a no-call – that cost Lakeside. Then, with less than two minutes to go, game officials burned an extra full minute off the clock when the ticker wasn’t supposed to be ticking.
All of this – the Lakeside offensive mistakes and the less than stellar caliber of officiating – was just too much for the gassed Warrior defense to overcome. Unfortunately, it all spelled L-O-S-S.
So, with that out of the way, let’s get to the good.
If these guys names were called once they were each called a dozen times:
- Jeremiah Allen – A senior leader who did a little bit of everything Friday night.
- Eli Santelices – Great tackles, pass deflections, and successful extra point conversions (that last one is hard to do in high school ball). Eli may be the most improved player on the team.
- Jamarion Evans – Powerful tackles for loss on running backs and hammering blows on the quarterback. There’s going to be a few Hornets who are hurting in the morning thanks to “Coco.”
- Zander Plunkett – ZP is one of the happiest and kind-hearted guys you’d ever be lucky to know. But he went out and played like a crazed dog Friday night that terrorized the Hornet quarterback each play.
- James Maxie – He made several important catches for a Lakeside offense that struggled against its own mistakes and the unbearable weight of questionable referee calls.
- Jordan Case – A quiet young man and the senior running back who punished Hornet defenders every time he touched the ball. His bruising style, coupled with nimble footwork, gave the Warriors one of their two touchdowns. The older Case brother scored from 25 yards out in the fourth quarter to cut Arcadia’s lead to six with eight minutes to play in the game.
- Tamarjah Ferrell – WOW!
- Trevor Tharpe – Again, WOW!
Those last two, Mr. Tamarjah Ferrell and Mr. Trevor Tharpe, put on a clinic in how to make an impact on a football game.
One more time – WOW!
If there was a Warrior worthy of player of the game, it would be impossible to pick between these two dynamic young men.
Tamarjah started off the two-man highlight show by hauling in a Brock Case pass for a big gain in the first quarter. He followed it up with a 25-yard touchdown reception off a Case toss to narrow the Arcadia lead to 14-7. He then picked off a fourth-quarter Hornet pass at the goal line and returned it to the 30 before another questionable call put the Warriors all the way back inside their own 10.
Trevor had at least one sack in every quarter and had more tackles for loss than Tom Brady has Super Bowl rings. He made three successive plays late in the game that should have led to a Warrior comeback victory – two tackles for loss and a fumble recovery – but we know that’s not how the story ended.
All in all, Lakeside’s night was an exercise in frustration. They had numerous opportunities to post a season-opening victory, but things eventually fell apart. Some of it was their own fault and some of it was someone else’s fault.
Now what is vital to the season is how these young men respond. It’s very easy to say the sky is falling after such a demoralizing loss and allow defeat to snowball.
Let’s hope these Warriors see how close they were to a win so they can adjust and improve so that next time there will be a W on the board rather than a partially self-inflicted L.