BY YANEEK SMITH, BEACON CONTRIBUTOR
HOLLAND — Despite scoring 11 touchdowns, Danbury was pushed to the limit in its game with Toledo Christian, but the Lakers outlasted the Eagles, winning 82-64.
TC took an early lead when Trevor Wensink connected with Solomon Sandoval on a touchdown from 26 yards out, and the two hooked up again on the two-point conversion to make it 8-0. Danbury quarterback Kaden Conrad rushed for a 1-yard touchdown, but the conversion failed, cutting the Eagles’ lead to two points.
TC answered as Daniel Kuhn caught a 45-yard touchdown pass from Wensink, and the two connected again on the two-point conversion to make it 16-6.
Danbury (4-0, 3-0 Northern 8 Football Conference) scored three consecutive touchdowns and took the lead for good when Cole Shortridge ran it in from three yards out to put the Lakers up 20-16. Those two touchdowns were sandwiched around by a 20-yard touchdown run by Conrad and an 18-yard touchdown run by Cade McCarthy to push the lead to 12 points. From there, the teams traded punches with Danbury holding off the Eagles. Overall, there were 1,100 yards of total offense.
“It was kind of a roller coaster of emotions. We had a feeling it was going to be high scoring, but not like that,” said Danbury coach Keith Mora. “Defensively, we’re not a team that is going to drop back in a lot of zone. We’re a high-pressure team.
“Trevor Wensink is a phenomenal athlete and had a lot of nice targets to throw to. What they do well, it’s a matchup issue for us. We felt like we could move the ball against them.
We’ve had a good defensive football team for the first few weeks. It was a lot of ups and downs through the night. We gave them some outs on third-and-longs and some fourth downs.
“I’m not concerned. We played good defense in the previous three weeks. We gave up one touchdown to St. Mary and two to Stryker. It was a matchup issue for us. We had a couple of personnel changes, it was the first time we played a team that wants to spread it out and throw the ball. It’s not that we weren’t prepared for it. I’m not super concerned about our defense as a whole.”
The Lakers threw the ball just three times in the game as its rushing attack was more than capable of handling the load. Led by Shortridge, who carried the ball 29 times for 247 yards and three touchdowns, Danbury accumulated 567 yards on the ground. Conrad ran the ball 35 times for 195 yards and five scores and converted on seven two-point conversions. Cade McCarthy rushed 19 times for 125 yards and two touchdowns and converted on two two-point conversions.
“It was kind of similar to some of the other weeks where I’ve talked about us being a very balanced football team. They know that Cole is our guy, but they have to look at us and realize we can do things with Cade or Kaden. With Cole and Cade, Kaden is a nice compliment,” said Mora. “If you look at this game, Cole had 274 yards rushing, Kaden had 195 and Cade had 125 — that’s three backs over 100 yards, two going over 150. It forced the defense to pay attention to every ball carrier.”
Shortridge also had a terrific game on the other side of the ball, finishing with two interceptions, a forced fumble and seven tackles. Wyatt Caskey led the team with eight tackles.
On Friday, the Lakers travel to Stryker, which is located 101 miles west of Marblehead. Danbury won their first meeting, 58-12.
“I don’t think the score of the first game necessarily indicates the improvement they have shown. The last two weeks on film, we saw what they look like against Toledo Christian and Holgate,” said Mora. “They’re improving, they’re better than they were two weeks ago. Our guys can’t afford to look past them. It’s all about Stryker this week, we have to make sure we’re ready for them.”