BY YANEEK SMITH, BEACON CONTRIBUTOR
DANBURY TWP. — A few critical mistakes in the early stages of the Friday night’s game cost Danbury dearly, as the Lakers lost to Ottawa Hills, 49-18.
Danbury (0-2) scored the game’s opening touchdown on a 54-yard pass from Kaden Conrad to Tommy Owens, but the Green Bears (1-1) responded, scoring four consecutive touchdowns to make it 28-6. Andrew Helgren and Blake Gnepper scored two touchdowns apiece to put Ottawa Hills up by 22 points.
The Lakers were able to stop the bleeding when Cole Shortridge caught a 9-yard pass from Conrad for a touchdown, and a missed extra point left it at 28-12. But a 60-yard touchdown run by Helgren effectively put the game out of reach.
“There were two or three drives in the first half where we had a third down and something very minor like a couple of missed assignments caused a fourth down or a punt. We forced two turnovers on defense (in the first half) and walked away with no points,” said Danbury coach Keith Mora. “I think we got a lot better this week. I told the players if we’re getting scored on, we have to score back. Our kids did a nice job of forcing them to drive the length of the field.
“Offensively, we missed a couple of key opportunities. If we score on the forced turnovers, it’s a 12-point game. That’s manageable. It’s about maximizing those off opportunities.
“Kaden did a lot of nice things, we had to break it down and get to our basics. He did a nice job, had no interceptions, and only got sacked, I think, three times. There were just some little execution issues.”
Conrad played very well, completing 30-of-53 passes and three touchdowns. It was his second game in the air-raid offense, and he certainly made some progress, said Mora.
“We have a system of how we read the field. When things started to go a little poorly, I think (Kaden) got a little impatient and started looking for whoever seemed open. It paid off this time when he found the receiver. I thought he did a very nice job pre-snap of where he wanted to go with the ball.”
Owens caught nine passes for 137 yards and a score. Shortridge finished with eight receptions for 72 yards and two touchdowns and Will Tibbels caught nine passes for 49 yards.
“The one thing I keep stressing is be selfless. If you’re the guy who gets two passes thrown their way, if you’re busy being selfish, you’re not going to run your routes well, and you won’t get the ball consistently,” said Mora. “Teams will key on that guy. It’s a combined effort. Tommy doesn’t have nice stats if our other receivers don’t run good routes.”
This Friday, the Lakers travel to Dola to take on Hardin Northern, which is coming off a 28-20 loss to Riverdale. The Polar Bears, who are 1-1 on the season, defeated Arcadia, 48-26, in the opener.