McDonogh 35 won the coin toss and elected to kick off against Lake Area on Thursday, knowing it would result in a short field when the Roneagles got the ball back.
They proved correct for that possession and the rest of the first half in rolling to an insurmountable lead on their way to a 34-14 victory over the Leopards at Pan American Stadium.
It was the District 9-4A opener for both teams.
“We got off to a fast start, but we had a slow ending,” Roneagles coach Wayne Reese said. “We played good football in the first half. We executed just like we’ve been taught, like we practiced, and the things just went our way.”
Playing the entire first half except for one Lake Area possession on the Leopards’ side of the 50-yard line, McDonogh 35 (4-0, 1-0) raced to a 27-0 halftime lead. Running back Darius May, who has committed to play at Tulane, ran for touchdowns of 17 and 1 yards, and quarterback Sidney Wilson threw scoring passes of 35 and 19 yards to wide receiver Lawrence Keys.
Keys made sure the Roneagles got off to a good start to the second half, as well, returning the third-quarter kickoff 82 yards for a touchdown.
Lake Area (1-3, 0-1) showed some spunk in the second half, outscoring the Roneagles 14-6 behind two passes from quarterback Ricky Jones to wide receiver Brice Kensey. The Leopards held McDonogh 35 to two first downs in the second half.
“We just challenged our team to compete,” said Leopards coach Derrick Lewis, a former Saints player. “Thirty-five is a good team; we knew that. We challenged our team to fly around, play like 35 did.”
Some of Lake Area’s improved play was due to Reese substituting after Keys’ kickoff return for a touchdown. However, Lewis said his team, in its first year in Class 4A after not competing for district honors, started the game distracted.
“I think they let this little social media thing get the better of them, and they got outside of what we practiced,” he said.
Reese also told his team after the game that they tweet too much.
“I don’t know who those guys were in the second half,” Reese said concerning his team’s more listless play. “In the second half, we didn’t do diddly.”
Reese said that’s not a good habit to get into, particularly with Carver up next Friday.
“Carver is one of the best teams in the district,” he said. “I don’t care how much you tell them you have to play like a champion, I guess theyt have theyir minds made up. We didn’t do diddly in the second half.
“In this district, we can’t do what we did tonight.”