Lakeside adds a dimension
Balanced attack on offense leads to Panthers' 2-0 start
By Matt Middleton | Staff Writer
Thursday, September 17, 2009

Lakeside coach Jody Grooms was forced to go back and look at game film from last year to try and answer the question his team's two-game output had presented.

Since when had the Panthers run the ball this much?

Grooms said it took last year's team half the year to run the ball 70 times -- a number the Panthers will match on their fourth carry this week.

Lakeside's defense has not allowed a point in its first two games -- both double-digit wins -- but Grooms credits a balanced offense with aiding a defense that was expected to be a strength.

The result has been Lakeside's early rise to one of the most surprising teams in the area.

It has given Evans a rare regular-season loss and could have the school's first playoff berth since 2000 all but locked up with two wins in the next three weeks. Lakeside travels to Glenn Hills on Friday attempting to avenge a 34-14 loss from last season.

Lakeside is averaging 297 yards per game on offense. It has rushed 66 times for 240 yards in those two wins, grinding out drives that keep its defense and the opposing teams' offensive threats on the sidelines.

"Because we have been able to run the football on offense, that's limited the amount of snaps (the defense) has had to play," Grooms said. "That's huge. ... Being able to run the ball keeps the defense on the sidelines. They're rested."

Said offensive lineman Joshua Dickerson: "We've just been better prepared to block (well) and execute."

Even though the Panthers are putting up better numbers on the ground, no one player has rushed for more than 44 yards in a game. Grooms said that's indicative of an offense that has players switching positions and formations virtually every play.

"We have lots of playmakers, but nobody is going to stand out, jump out at you," Grooms said. "What we do have is a lot of kids comfortable enough to make plays."

Added quarterback/wide receiver Mark Weidenaar: "We have a different formation for every situation."

Weidenaar and Ben Wilson have combined to replace three-year starter Chad Chandler at quarterback. Lakeside has passed for at least 175 yards in its first two games, though Grooms said his team can no longer be branded as one-dimensional.

"We had gotten the identity of a passing football team, but we've shown people we can run the ball," Grooms said. "It makes our entire team better when we can grind out some drives.

"The crowd feeds off it, too. Our crowd loves long, sustained drives. They love watching our defense energized and excited to be out there."

From the Thursday, September 17, 2009 edition of the Augusta Chronicle
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