For a program that is in the process of rebuilding, playing a marquee opponent presents an opportunity to build one's confidence and reputation by playing a good game.
But there is also the risk that the team you're playing could put on a clinic.
For the Danbury Lakers, they experienced the latter in their game last Friday with Northwood, the seventh-ranked team in Division V.
From the outset, the Rangers took control, scoring four touchdowns in the first quarter to go ahead 27-0. Northwood forced a turnover on Danbury's first series, setting itself up at the Lakers 27-yard-line. Dominik Bermejo later scored from 13 yards to make it 7-0 before another Laker fumble set the Rangers up in Danbury territory. Quarterback Nick Russell then connected with wide receiver Brandon Kretz from 35 yards out for a 14-0 advantage with 8:12 remaining in the first quarter.
Northwood added two touchdowns in the latter part of the quarter, pushing the lead to 20-0 on a one-yard run by Anthony Prothero after another Laker turnover. And, with 1:43 left in the period, Bretz, playing defensive back, intercepted a pass and returned it 40 yards to make it 27-0.
Northwood is now 7-0 and 4-0 in the Toledo Area Athletic Conference while the Lakers fall to 2-5 overall and 1-3 in the league.
The Rangers, who feature a wishbone attack, ran for 238 yards and had three running backs finish with at least 45 yards. Jordan Schell had two carries for 58 yards. Bermejo carried the ball twice for 50 yards and three touchdowns (one receiving). Nick Whitmore had two carries for 45 yards. Quarterback Nick Russell completed 3-of-5 passes for 91 yards and two touchdowns.
Northwood scored 13 points apiece in the second and third quarters, respectively, and added a touchdown in the fourth quarter to round out the scoring.
The Lakers, who have been battling some injuries lately, were done in by their five turnovers, four of which came on fumbles. As a team, Danbury rushed for 54 yards and passed for 24 yards.
Caleb Gerber led the team with three carries for 25 yards and Brandon Bahnsen rushed 16 times for 22 yards. Gerber had one reception for 17 yards and Bahnsen caught two balls for seven yards.
This week, the Lakers host the Ottawa Hills Green Bears, who are 5-2 and 4-0 in the TAAC. Following two losses to open the season, Ottawa Hills has won five consecutive games, outscoring their opponents by a combined 210-50.
This season running backs Will Longthorne and Jack Wollenburg have helped establish a strong rushing attack for the Bears, who are currently tied for first in the TAAC and rank eight with 5.92 points in the Division VI, Region 22 playoff standings