Indian Lake was looking to make a statement in its CBC Mad River Division game against Urbana Oct. 23. The Lakers had won three in a row and sat atop the MRD standings, but the Hillclimbers had beaten the Lakers on the gridiron five straight times. The Lakers came into the game feeling like it had something to prove.
It took them all of 16 seconds to do it.
Indian Lake’s Cole Merritt took the ball from quarterback Alex Jacobs on the game’s first play from scrimmage and outran 11 Hillclimbers on an 87-yard to a trip to the end zone. Add in a Connor Davis PAT, and at 11:44 in the first quarter, it was 7-0 Lakers, just 16 ticks into the game. Merritt’s score was the the first of seven touchdowns the the hosts dropped on the ‘Climbers in the 49-9 win.
The win over Urbana may turn out to be one of the most significant in the long tradition of Indian Lake football. Now 7-2 on the season (and a perfect 4-0 in the MRD), the victory moved the Lakers into the #7 spot in the OHSAA computer rankings in Div. IV, Region 12. The top eight schools in each region are invited to play in Week 11, an honor that a Laker football team has never earned.
Urbana got on the scoreboard early on a blocked punt deep in Indian Lake territory. Quick-thinking Laker punter Collin Coburn got to the ball first and batted it out of the end zone, giving Urbana two points for the safety instead of the six for a touchdown. This odd sequence of events gave credence to the rumor that the only team able to score on the Lakers is the Laker offense.
The stats would back that up. Urbana was held to just 166 yards in total offense, the Lakers clamping down on a ‘Climber team that was averaging over 175 yards per game through the air alone. In one of Urbana’s rare trips into Indian Lake territory, the Laker “D” deflated the the ‘Climbers dreams of mounting a drive when Andrew Hulbert snagged an errant pass and turned it into a pick-six. One quarter of Urbana’s total yards came on one play, a 45-yard TD pass to from Levi Botcher to Alex Lohnes, well after the outcome was no longer in doubt.
As a team, the Lakers have allowed a total of 86 points in nine games. They are giving up an average of only 36 rushing and 81 passing yards per game in MRD contests and have pitched three shutouts this season, coming within three points of hanging another goose egg when USV managed a single field goal in a 45-point loss to the Lakers in Week 3.
The Laker offense has been as equally excellent. Indian Lake is scoring points at a rate of 36 points per game, a number that jumps over 40 ppg against MRD opponents. QB Alex Jacobs has thrown for at least one touchdown in all nine games, 15 in all, and has used his legs to score five more. He’s currently among the CBC leaders in passing yards, while Merritt is in the top five in rushing yards. Against Urbana, Indian Lake rang up 393 yards in total offense on just 36 plays, which works out to a ridiculous 10.9 yards-per-play.
Indian Lake’s win set up what will undoubtedly be the biggest game in the football program’s history as the Lakers travel across Logan County to Rushcreek Township to take on Benjamin Logan in the regular season closer. The Raiders are also a perfect 4-0 in the MRD, having stampeded the Greenon Knights Oct. 23, setting up the one-game showdown for the MRD hardware Friday, Oct. 30.
Tom Stephens is a regular contributor to this newspaper.