Honesdale falls to Lakeland in a bruising Week One encounter
On a picture perfect evening here in the Maple City, Honesdale and Lakeland slugged it out through four quarters of brutally physical football.
The two ancient grid rivals went toe-to-toe from opening kick-off to final whistle. And, when the smoke cleared, it was the visiting Chiefs who walked away with a 6-0 win.
Defense dominated this Week One LFC encounter. No player on either side topped 100 yards in passing, rushing or receiving.
“I’m proud of the effort,” said an emotionally drained Coach Mike Jurkowski afterward. “We made some silly mistakes, but the kids played hard. They gave us everything they had for four quarters and that’s all we can ask.”
Honesdale goes right from the frying pan into the fire as a Week Two battle with archrival Wallenpaupack Area looms.
“You always know what you’re going to get with Paupack,” Coach Jurkowski said. “They’ll be big, strong and tough. If you don’t get excited for this game, then there’s something wrong with you.”
Opening kick-off for the 26th Annual Wayne-Pike Shrine Bowl is set for 7 p.m. Friday on the shores of The Big Lake.
In the Trenches
Honesdale won the coin toss and elected to receive the opening kick-off.
A miscue on the play pinned the Hornets deep in their own territory and they struggled throughout the first period to flip the field.
Lakeland mounted its first scoring threat as time wound down in the opening stanza. Thanks to the potent 1-2 punch of quarterback CJ Dippre and tailback Giovanni Spataro, the Chiefs marched methodically downfield.
Fortunately for Hornet fans, Cameron Baker snuffed out the drive by recovering a fumble at the 15 yardline with 4:28 left in the period.
Lakeland's defense stood tall, though, and Honesdale was forced to punt.
The Chiefs then began another advance, but Justin LoBasso recovered another fumble, this one at the 14 yardline early in the second quarter. Once again, the Red & Black struggled to move the ball and were forced to kick it away.
This time, there was no dodging the bullet.
Lakeland put together its third long drive, highlighted by big runs from Spataro and Josh Kovaleski, along with a key pass completion from Dippre to wideout Thomas Pidgeon.
Spataro eventually did the honors, powering his way into the endzone from four yards out. The try for conversion was blocked and, with 3:23 remaining in the first half, Lakeland had itself a 6-0 advantage.
While Honesdale had difficulty sustaining drives all night long, the Hornets did receive stellar efforts from several players.
Andy Carroll ran hard between the tackles and showed a nice burst when he was able to bounce the ball outside.
Carroll closed out his night with 66 hard-earned yards on 19 carries and received high marks from his mentor.
“Andy ran well,” Coach Jurkowski said. “He hit the holes hard and finished off his runs.”
Justin LoBasso stepped up as well. The battle-tested senior delivered big plays at several key junctures.
LoBasso dazzled on both sides of the ball, catching key passes at tight end and wreaking havoc at defensive end. Justin was named a Game Captain for his all-around performance in Honesdale's scrimmage against Hanover Area.
On Friday night, he caught three passes for 19 yards … and he would have had four receptions, but an apparent 20-yard touchdown catch was nullified by a penalty.
“Justin is just a good football player,” said Coach Jurkowski. “He finds a way to get open and has good hands. He's a three-year starter on defense, too, and he is showing very good leadership.”
Over & Out
Honesdale's defense kept things close in this one.
The Hornets bent, but didn't break. They allowed 198 yards on the ground, but just 88 through the air.
“We did some really good things on defense,” Coach Jurkowski said. “We forced a few fumbles and made some tackles behind the line of scrimmage. I'm very pleased by what I saw defensively.”
Next up for Honesdale is a Week Two battle with archrival Wallenpaupack Area in the 26th Annual Shrine Bowl. The Bucks are coming off a double-digit loss to Valley View, but Coach Jurkowski knows not to count out Dr. Mark Watson's squad.
“They're always well-coached and well prepared,” he said. “It's a huge rivalry game. We need to get back to work, have a good week of practice and be ready to step up Friday night.”
Score by Quarters...
HON (0-1) 0 0 0 0 – 0
LAK (1-0) 0 6 0 0 – 6