Any good team responds from a devastating setback.
After losing 56-0 to St. Mary CC last week, the Danbury Lakers stormed out to a 23-6 lead before defeating Cardinal Stritch, 26-18.
Behind an incredible performance from Zach Kalinoski, who completed 12-of-18 passes for 256 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another score, the Lakers won their conference opener.
“We thought going in that we'd have a good chance against (Stritch),” Danbury head coach Bryan Dudash said of the game. “The kids came out fired up and we made some things happen early. They fought till the end. Late in the game, they dug deep, and they came through.”
Lakers kicker Jim Dorko opened the scoring with a 23-yard field goal and Danbury pushed the lead to 10-0 when Kalinoski connected on a 90-yard touchdown pass to Jim Chamberlain. The touchdown came off a double reverse that passed through the hands of two wide receivers before ending up in the hands of Kalinoski.
Kalinoski scored on a one-yard run to push the lead to 16-0 before the Cardinals responded with a 25-yard touchdown run by running back Zach Denomy to cut the deficit to 16-6.
Kalinoski later connected with Chamberlain for a second score on a 16-yard hitch-and-go route. Denomy, who finished with 31 carries for 194 yards, helped Stritch get back into the game by rushing for 33- and 11-yard touchdowns to make it 23-18. Another field goal by Dorko pushed the lead to 26-18 before the Lakers held off the Cardinals' final rally.
“We weren't clicking offensively and they just kept pounding us with the run and we can't make a lot of substitutions (because of our numbers),” Dudash said. “A holding call took a (Stritch) touchdown off the board and then we stopped them. It got a little tight and thank God I don't have any hair or I would have pulled it all out.”
Chamberlain finished with eight catches for 173 yards and two scores, Brandon Bahnsen had four receptions for 90 yards and running back Cody German rushed for 103 yards on 18 carries.
This week, the Lakers host the Edon Bombers, who are 2-2 on the season. Last season, the Bombers advanced to the Div. VI Playoffs and defeated Danbury in the regular season, 64-34. This year, Edon has defeated Antwerp (39-6) and Edgerton (28-13), two schools that are a combined 0-8 and have lost to Hicksville (63-20) and Northwood (49-12), two quality teams.
“They're not as talented as they've been in the past years,” said Dudash, “but they're still pretty good — they've still got some players that can do some damage. If we're not careful, we could give up some points to them, (but) if we score 35 or 40 this year, we'll win the game.”