LAKE ORION — Lake Orion was up 31-7 with 47 seconds in the first half, would receive the second-half kickoff and hadn’t been stopped all night long. So why did the Dragons need to score again?
Because they could.
“Let’s get one more,” senior Corey Ester told people on the sidelines.
The Dragons ran the clock out to get to the locker room, but rarely let up the rest of the way. A punt on the opening possession of the second half was the only stop of the game besides running out the clock to end both halves. Lake Orion’s mean, green rushing machine kept rolling Friday night against Macomb Dakota with a 51-35 victory.
Coach Chris Bell decided to let up before halftime. But could his Dragons have scored if they wanted to?
“Yes, most definitely,” Ester said. “I feel like, with our explosive offense, we can put a touchdown up in seconds.”
“We can score in a hurry,” Bell said. “We’ve done it. Absolutely.”
Lake Orion’s offense was as close to unstoppable as it gets on Friday. It ran for 400 yards on 49 carries against a defense that came in on a 10-game win streak and hadn’t given up more than 21 points since Week 1.
But it wasn’t always like this.
For four years, starting quarterback Sean Charette tossed the ball around en route to one state finals appearance and one state title. Lake Orion came out that way in the season opener against Oxford, but it didn’t work. So the Dragons went with Plan B: break out the tight sets, throw in some extra backs and pound the ball up the middle.
Twelve weeks later, Plan B is now Plan A.
“We’ve been running the ball very well all year long, but we can throw it as well,” Bell said. “It’s more or less how teams are going to play us. If they’re going to take away the run, we’re going to throw it. If they take away the pass, then we’ll run it. We’re not afraid to call either one.”
In the football-rich town of Lake Orion, it’s tough for one player to differentiate himself. But that’s what senior Jacob Miller did in the running game Friday night. He carried 29 times for 236 yards and three touchdowns from 1, 68 and 1 yard out. Twice, he ran the ball more than 60 yards untouched.
“When you get hot, you just gotta keep rolling,” Miller said. “I had the hot hand tonight, and it was good to keep that going.”
Miller established himself as the featured back Friday, but having multiple options only increases the competition.
“You just have to play greedy,” Ester said. “Don’t let one person bring you down, and just get as many as you can — try to take it to the house every time.”
Miller was just one of several bruising backs for Lake Orion. Christopher Leigh added five carries for 44 yards. Ester, four for 21. Dominick Giovinazzo, five for 73. Zak Arnold, four for 24.
After an interception on the first possession, the Dragons scored easily with good field position. Next, they had to settle for a field goal.
On the third possession, they broke out their three-back power formation, and it was all over for Dakota.
DeLaura was under center, and three backs were lined up side-by-side behind him. DeLaura would hand off to one and usually fake to another, so Dakota didn’t know who was coming.
Lake Orion has the ability to switch between seasons—or even in the same game—between pass-heavy and run-heavy. Friday, it happened to be run-heavy. But when Dakota brought the blitz in the fourth quarter, Bell knew who he could turn to.
“I have all the confidence in the world,” DeLaura said. “They put me in the right situation to make plays, and I’ve always made plays.”
With Dakota stacking against the run, DeLaura dropped back and lofted two beautiful fades to 6-feet-7 receiver Chaz Miller in the corner of the end zone. Dakota wanted pass interference on the first, but Miller was just too tall.
So can Lake Orion score whenever it wants?
“We think so,” Bell said. “Very rarely do we get stopped because the other team’s just better than us. They may make plays better than us, but we feel that if we do things the right way, we can score all the time.”
Finally, Lake Orion ran down the clock and got its regional title trophy over Dakota, which had eliminated the Dragons in 2004, 2005 and 2007.
The battle was over, but nobody felt like leaving. It was over an hour before everyone was gone. Everyone was savoring the moment.
The Dragons’ machine rolls into Athens next week to take on Detroit Cass Tech. It will keep scoring. No matter who it’s playing. No matter what the score is. No matter whether it’s with DeLaura slinging the ball down the field or with an old-school, smashmouth running game.
Cass Tech won’t know what’s coming.
(Jake Lourim is a senior at Troy High School and a member of the S.H.P. Media Group / www.northoaklandsports.com Student Correspondence Program. He is publisher of website www.troycoltsportsupdate.com and a member of the Troy school newspaper editorial staff. He can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com)