BY YANEEK SMITH, BEACON CONTRIBUTOR
TOLEDO — It wasn’t the ending Danbury wanted for its season, but the Lakers got to send their six seniors out fighting the good fight in a 48-22 loss to Toledo Christian.
The Lakers missed out on a chance to win the Northern 8 Football Conference, finishing the season 2-6 and 1-2 in the league, but they had a good showing in the second half of their finale after being down 28-0 at halftime.
The Eagles led 16-0 after the first quarter and scored two more touchdowns in the second to take control of the game.
“It kind of got away from us a little bit early when they scored two times pretty quickly in the first quarter. Our goal was to shrink the game, run the ball and run the clock,” said Danbury coach Keith Mora. “We got backed up behind the chains. If you get down by two scores, I think that forced us to press a little more than we needed to.”
Trailing 22-0 with just under two minutes to play in the first half, Toledo Christian scored a touchdown to break the Lakers’ back, but Danbury did respond with three touchdowns in the final two quarters.
“It was a pass down the middle and the wide receiver caught it and he went the rest of the way, about 35 yards,” Mora of the last touchdown before the half. “You’re pretty far behind at that point.”
The Lakers had to look themselves in the face at halftime.
“We came out and we told the kids, we have six seniors in the room. We can either accept a blowout, or we stop looking at the scoreboard and try to play for our pride,” said Mora. “At least you can walk out with your head held high that you went for it. We scored two touchdowns and went for an onside kick, but we didn’t get it. The kids played hard in the second half.”
The first Danbury touchdown came on a 10-yard pass from Guy Maltese to Wyatt Caskey. Cade McCarthy scored the two-point conversion on a run. Andy Zelms caught a 29-yard touchdown pass from Jacob Mischler, and the final Laker touchdown came on a 19-yard run by McCarthy. Caskey caught a pass from Mischler on the two-point conversion in the fourth quarter.
The Eagles scored 20 points in the second half.
Mischler completed 9-of-19 passes for 149 yards and a touchdown, McCarthy carried the ball 21 times for 89 yards and a score and Maltese had 11 rushes for 76 yards and threw for a touchdown.
As a team, Danbury finished with 308 yards of total offense.
It was the final game for seniors Caskey, Zelms, Cade McCarthy, Connor McCarthy, Danny Harris and D.J. Webster. It’s a group that has accomplished quite a bit, including an undefeated season last year.
“It’s been a long road for them. They’ve seen a lot of changes within our program. As sophomores in 2019, they had to be a part of the vision of us going to 8-man football,” said Mora. “The’ve seen a lot, with a majority of them starting midway through the year as only freshmen.
“Over 30 games of varsity football, there have been a ton of reps those guys have been through, with different coaches, a different system, and the chance to play 8-man. I couldn’t be more thankful for the hard work those kids put in. They got to be part of some of the really good times.”