It seems as if the De La Salle offense will be just fine without the presence of Cole Lewis.
With the Cavaliers losing their 1,400-yard running back due to graduation, they knew they would have to establish a new identity on offense.
They had no problem getting that new offense up and running in the first game, as they ran away with 44-14 victory against Lake Area on Thursday night at Pan American Stadium.
“Losing Cole this offseason was big, man” De La Salle running back Quincy Cage said. “But we just told ourselves that we have to work hard in the weightroom and work hard on the field, so we can do what we have to do.”
Cage, who also played wide receiver and quarterback during stretches, gave the Cavaliers an explosive weapon to center their offense around, finishing with six carries for 132 yards and a touchdown. Quarterback Julien Gums completed his only three passes for 49 yards and scored three total touchdowns.
“We have great playmakers all over our offense,” De La Salle coach Ryan Manale said. “I have faith we’ll be able to score points on a consistent basis. It’s just a matter of focusing on our execution and doing the little things right.”
The Leopards started off poorly.
After forcing De La Salle into punting on its opening possession, Lake Area quarterback Ricky Jones was intercepted by cornerback Noble Scott on his first pass, and Scott returned it 40 yards for a touchdown.
Lake Area fumbled the ensuing kickoff, allowing Gums to connect with tight end Sean Monconduit one play later on a 19-yard touchdown. The Leopards next possession ended with a snap soaring over the head of the Lake Area punter Aaron Delgado into the end zone for a safety that made the score 16-0.
By the end of the first quarter, De La Salle forced the Leopards into three turnovers and led 30-6.
“It was exciting for us to come out and play like that,” Cage said. “We made sure we worked hard all week, and we did a good job of executing, and it was just really electric to be out there.”
De La Salle continued its dominance into the second quarter, adding touchdown runs from Gums and running back Ricco Wheat to push the lead to 44-6 by halftime.
“We pride ourselves on being an up-tempo team, but we had to start slowing things down after the first quarter,” Manale said. “Our guys did a really good job of executing, and I’m proud of the way they played today.”
Despite struggling on offense, one of the bright spots for Lake Area was wide receiver Cyron Sutton, who had four catches for 130 yards, including a 71-yard touchdown from quarterback Ricky Jones.
Lake Area was without three defensive starters for Thursday’s game due to an academic suspension, including linebacker Brian Henry, linemen Brandon Miller and Cornell McDaniels. Four total Lake Area players were suspended for Thursday’s game and the coaching staff said the suspensions will extend through the next two games, as well.