Abes score road win over Lakes
By Justin Gimse
It’s hard to believe that the high school football season will reach its midpoint when Tacoma-area teams do battle next. One of the drawbacks of such an amazing sport is that the seasons are so relatively short compared to other prep sports. However, when the fur really starts flying out there between the goalposts, it’s pretty much a no-brainer as to why there’s only a handful of football games every season.
Let’s face it, when two talented teams meet up with some serious league business on the line, the action on the field can often be brutal. Those are the sort of nights when collisions on the field are nearly felt all the way up in the stands.
When the sixth-ranked Lincoln Abes paid a visit to the Lakes Lancers on Friday, Sept. 22, the atmosphere at Harry Lang Stadium felt as though it was a state playoff game, with a ticket to the Tacoma Dome going to the victors. The hits, blocks and tackles felt as though they were on another level as both teams doled out some legitimate punishment.
As has been the case for several years now, when the final whistle blew, it would be the Lincoln Abes leaving the field with another hard-fought victory. The scoreboard may have read Lincoln 30, Lakes 14, but that 16-point difference did nothing to show just how tight this game was until late in the fourth quarter.
The Lancers took the opening kick-off and began nipping away at the Lincoln defense, pushing the ball all the way to the Abes’ 43-yard line. That’s where the Lancers’ drive stalled and Lincoln took over on downs, only to have their offense sputter out of the gates and punt it back to Lakes after a three-and-out. Not to be outdone, the Abes’ defense smacked Lakes in the mouth on the next possession, dropping the Lancers for a couple of negative gains and forcing the hosts to punt.
It’s not really a secret any longer. Lincoln has an exceptional talent in senior running back Tristian Kwon. If the football is in his hands, Kwon is a legitimate threat to cross the opposition’s goal-line, and it doesn’t matter how long or short of a trip it is getting there.
Kwon gathered in the Lakes’ punt on the 28-yard line, near the Lancers’ side of the field. The 2016 All-City selection made an immediate bee-line toward the Lincoln side of the field, shook off a would-be Lakes’ tackler at the corner and then hit the afterburners. When Kwon crossed the goal-line 72-yards later, he was alone and had blown by a speedy group of Lancers. Lincoln led 7-0 with 5:23 remaining in the first quarter.
The Lincoln defense came out fired up on the next Lakes’ possession and forced another punt after yet another three-and-out series. Back to receive the kick again was Kwon. This time he would take a more direct approach on his return, weaving his way directly into the teeth of the Lakes’ special teams. After navigating through the first wave of would-be tacklers, Kwon broke into the open surrounded by several blockers. The only problem is everyone missed Lakes’ senior Cody Roe who was closing fast on Kwon. The defensive back knifed through a couple of Lincoln players and grappled Kwon to the ground at the Lakes’ 17-yard line, thwarting what would have been an 87-yard return for a touchdown.
Despite the touchdown saver, the Abes were still hell-bent on getting into the end-zone. At this point, the Lakes defense really began turning up the pressure and the Lincoln found themselves looking at fourth-and-14 from the 21-yard line. Instead of opting for a 38-yard field goal attempt, the Abes rolled the dice. Senior quarterback Jaylen Antoine found senior receiver Nick Goss breaking into the clear behind the Lakes defense. A bullet pass found Goss several steps before the backline and the Abes had extended their lead to 13-0 with 3:03 remaining in the first quarter.
Lakes was unable to get anything started on their next possession and punted the ball away following yet-another three-and-out series. Lincoln would take over on their own 45-yard line, but coughed the ball up two plays later on a hard hit over the middle.
Lakes would regain possession but the Lincoln defense was still offering up no openings. The Lancers punted the ball away again and Lincoln took over on their own 32-yard line. After 11 plays, the Abes had advanced to the Lakes’ 29-yard line, where their own drive stalled and they turned the ball over on downs.
The Lincoln series came to an end when Lakes’ stud linebacker Manny Borrero-Lewis busted through the Abe offensive line and got a hand on Lincoln’s quarterback. While attempting to bring him down, Borrero-Lewis suffered an injury that would send him to the locker room and out for the remainder of the game. Senior Alan Fischer was close behind his teammate on the play and got the 14-yard sack.
Buoyed by their defensive stand, the Lancers came out swinging on the next possession. Mixing in some short passes with the ground work of junior running back Khalil Lewis, the Lancers drove down to the Lincoln nine-yard line. On first-and-goal, Lewis found an opening and headed toward the end-zone. The only defender standing in the way was Kwon at the four-yard line. Lewis barreled into Kwon and barely broke stride as he crossed the goal-line four yard later. Lakes was now on the board, trailing 13-7.
Fired up and gaining momentum, the Lakes defense forced a Lincoln punt on a three-and-out on the next possession. The Lancers began feeding the ball to Lewis, and the junior kept finding chunks of yardage. With 21 seconds left in the half, Lakes faced fourth-and-six from the Lincoln 12-yard line. Junior quarterback Liam Bladow rifled a pass to senior receiver Kyreice Miller in the back of the end-zone. For an instant, it looked as though Lakes may enter the locker room either tied or with the lead. As Dangtuw came down with the ball, Lincoln senior defensive back Kavon Holden slammed into the bigger receiver, knocking the ball loose and changing the course of the game.
Miller would later gain a bit of revenge.
On the third possession of the third quarter, Lincoln added to their lead with a 19-yard field goal off the foot of senior Gabe Foster. The lead was now 16-7 with 6:32 remaining in the third quarter. Lakes took over on their own 31-yard line and after a couple of big runs by Lewis, had the ball at the Lincoln 23-yard line. Bladow then found Miller on a short pass near the Lakes’ sideline. The tall receiver turned up field and saw Holden closing fast. As the defender went in for the tackle, Miller hurdled him and outran the rest of the Lincoln defense to the goal-line. Lincoln’s lead was now just 16-14 with 5:23 remaining in the third quarter.
Lakes was able to force an interception on the next Lincoln possession and the Lancer momentum was running rampant. With the ball at the Lincoln 24-yard line, Lakes was threatening to take the lead. A tipped Bladow pass ended their chance as Holden came up with the ball just a few inches before it touched the turf. Lincoln would string together nine plays on the next possession, but the drive stalled at the Lakes’ 23-yard line and the Abes turned the ball over on downs.
The Lincoln defense then forced the Lancers to punt following another three-and-out series, and this time the Abes were able to close the deal on the next possession. When sophomore quarterback Caden Filer ran the ball in over the left side from three yards out for a score, the momentum swing could be felt in the stands. It felt as though Lincoln had taken Lakes best shots and they were now done letting the Lancers have a little daylight. Lincoln now led 23-14 with 9:54 left in the game.
The Lancers seemed snake-bit on the next possession. After having a huge kick-off return by Roe nullified by a penalty, Lakes then added three more penalties to the mix on the ensuing drive, pushing themselves back to their own 17-yard line. A big hit by Lincoln junior Giovonni White knocked the ball loose and senior linebacker Alex Gillies recovered the ball on the Lakes’ 33-yard line.
The Abes would then feed junior running back Austin Moeung the ball on five consecutive plays. When Moeung punched the ball up the gut from one-yard out, the bell had tolled on the Lancers’ upset bid. Despite putting together a long drive down to the Lincoln six-yard line late in the game, Lakes was unable to find the end-zone and turned the ball over on downs. Lincoln then ran out the rest of the clock for the 30-14 win.
Up next for Lincoln (2-0 3A Pierce County League, 3-1 overall) is their big crosstown rivalry game against the struggling Wilson Rams (0-2, 0-4) on Friday, Sept. 29, at Lincoln Bowl. Kick-off is set for 7 p.m. At the same time, Lakes (1-1, 2-2) will be hosting Mt. Tahoma (0-2, 1-3).