Going into last week's game against Gibsonburg, the Lakers (2-6) and Golden Bears (3-5) had nearly identical records, but you wouldn't know it after Gibsonburg's 37-0 victory over Danbury on Friday.
Quarterback Matt Tille and the Bears, who came in riding a three-game winning streak after starting the season 0-5, controlled the game, scoring a touchdown in each of the first two quarters before breaking it open by outscoring the Lakers 24-0 in the second half.
With the win, Gibsonburg improves to 4-5 overall and 4-2 in the Toledo Area Athletic Conference. Danbury, meanwhile, falls to 2-7 and 2-4 in the league.
Tille got the Bears on the board in the first quarter, running it in from 32 yards out and in the second quarter hit Isiah Arriaga from 34 yards out to make it a 13-0 game at the half. But it was Jordan Jahna's kickoff return for a score at the beginning of the third quarter that broke Danbury's back, making it 19-0 and helping to further sustain momentum for Gibsonburg.
Tille, who scored seven touchdowns in a game earlier this season, hit Jon Angelone from 10 yards out to push the lead to 26-0 later in the third quarter before a safety, a touchdown and field goal rounded out the scoring.
Taylor Molnar was one of the few bright spots for the Lakers, rushing 12 times for 95 yards.
After starting the season 2-2, the Lakers have fallen on hard times as they've lost five straight games. There is good news, however. If Danbury beats Hilltop (3-6, 1-5 TAAC), it will mark the third consecutive season that the Lakers have won three games, an impressive feat considering where the program was several years ago.
Last season, the Cadets defeated Danbury, 50-30, in the season finale. Unfortunately, the drive from Marblehead to West Unity, where Hilltop High School is located, is 97 miles and takes roughly two hours.
The Cadets have had a season rather similar to Danbury's, defeating only Cardinal Stritch (28-18) in league play. Before defeating the Cardinals last week, Hilltop had lost five consecutive games, four of them coming in convincing fashion. If the Lakers are to beat the Cadets, they'll have to keep Hilltop running back Chad Champion in check. In the victory over Stritch, Champion rushed for 207 yards and a touchdown and fellow back David Smith had two touchdowns.