Newark players woke up Saturday eager to take part in a morning home game for the first time in their careers, realizing that this would become the norm rather than the exception on Butch Simpson Field at Bob Hoffman Memorial Stadium.
The Lake Forest Spartans loaded the bus in Felton full of confidence having scored 41 and 49 points against its first two opponents. Despite falling behind 6-0 and scoring less than half the points of their season average, the Spartans left Newark with a 21-12 victory.
“Definitely a tough loss,” Newark head coach Jody Russell said. “The kids played really hard and fought for the entire game.”
After a scoreless first quarter, Newark took the lead when Mele Stallings connected with Kamau Lately on a 20-yard touchdown pass. The duo has now hooked up for two of the Yellowjackets’ three touchdowns this season.
“Can credit that to how we practice to make sure it translates into the game,” Stalling explained of the chemistry.
Russell was pleased with his team’s offensive effort, but like any good coach, he also pointed out some of its deficiencies.
“We ran the ball pretty well in the first half,” he said. “We were inside the red zone twice, but again, penalties stalled both drives with no points.”
Newark’s defense played its best half of the season, limiting the high-scoring Lake Forest offense to just one touchdown in the first half.
“In the first half, we shut down Lake's powerful offense,” Russell pointed out. “The defense bought into playing assignment football. Lake completed its only pass on the final play of the second quarter.”
That 28-yard touchdown pass and extra point gave Lake Forest a 7-6 halftime lead.
“The message at the half was continue to do your job,” Russell said.
3rd quarter lapse
Newark’s defense continued to play well in the second half. Lake’s first score was on a 3-yard blocked punt returned for a touchdown and the second was a 10-yard rushing score. Unfortunately for Newark, that was all Lake needed, as the offense failed to muster enough points to complete a comeback.
“We will continue to learn how to finish drives,” Russell said. “That's a major focus this week at practice.”
Special teams not so special
In addition to Lake’s blocked punt and extra point, Newark gave up another long kickoff return that set up one of the Spartans’ two third-quarter touchdowns.
“Our special teams will be even more of a focus this week,” Russell explained. “This needs to be corrected in order for us to win.”
Stalling threw two touchdown passes, the second to Darren Tyson.
Captains say …
“It was a very tough one for us,” Jason Mitchell-Dickerson said. “We felt like we played our hardest and just couldn’t get the job done. I think it will motivate and push us this week at practice to go harder and bring the intensity up even more to prepare for A.I.”
“We played hard overall as a team and consistently flew to the ball on defense,” Alex Aviles said. “I feel like holding a team that scored 40-plus points in their first two games to only two touchdowns on Saturday is a great accomplishment that our defense achieved as a unit. We need to build on it as a team and translate our efforts into wins. That’s the only thing that matters now.”
“I feel as though we gave a great effort and fought to the end. We just got to find a way to win games,” Stallings said.
Newark travels to A.I. du Pont on Friday night to take on a 2-1 Tigers team that after dropping its opener to Wilmington Friends, has reeled off consecutive wins against Christiana and Indian River, respectively.
“A.I. has a really good running back in [Ja’Quai] Bishop,” Russell said of the senior who scored four rushing touchdowns last week. “We need to corral him and can't let him get rolling.”
Kickoff Friday night is at 6 p.m.
The Buzz from the Hive will be posted online each Monday morning during the high school football season and also in Friday’s print edition. It will include some game analysis and exclusive quotes from Newark High football coach Jody Russell and select members of the team after they've had a chance to watch game film, evaluate their performance, and begin preparation for the next game.