ANDOVER TOWNSHIP —
It would seem the Pymatuning Valley Lakers are a prime candidate for a letdown.
Coming off an emotional 22-16 loss at archrival Grand Valley in a battle to determine undisputed first place atop the Northeastern Conference and pave the road to the championship, the Lakers came out on the short end of a 22-16 verdict at Grand Valley Stadium.
So, how will the emotional state of the Lakers (3-5, 2-1) be Friday night when they host the Ledgemont Redskins at Laker Stadium.
Just fine, according to coach Neal Croston.
“I believe we will be ready to go,” he said. “Week 9 is our senior night. That should be motivation enough.”
Croston knows, as always, his guys invested heavily in last week’s game against their archrivals in Orwell.
“It was another exciting game,” he said. “It was your typical PV-GV game.
“I’m proud of the way our guys played. We had a goal-line stand in the first quarter, we had some young guys step up because of injuries, we moved the ball and created some turnovers. We did a good job of controlling what we could control.”
Now, though, the Lakers must pull their britches up and get to work with the 41st game in the all-time series with Ledgemont next on tap. PV leads the series, 22-17-1, though coach Joe LaRosa’s Redskins have won the last four matchups. Croston is still in search for his first victory against Ledgemont, PV’s last triumph in the series being a 34-6 win by coach Jason Root’s Lakers in Week 5 of the 2008 season at Laker Stadium.
Ledgemont defeated PV last fall at R.W. Sidley Field in a dogfight, 19-13.
The Redskins (1-7, 0-3) are coming off a 26-25 loss to visiting Windham last week, extending their losing streak to six since a 42-6 win at Newbury in Week 2.
“On offense, they will run the spread and pro-style formations,” Croston said. “On defense, they play a forty or fifty man front.
“They have a good running back in sophomore Jarrett Young. He is small at 5-foot-7 and 150 pounds, but seems to make plays all over the field. Fullback Mike McKeon is also a player we will need to contain.”
Croston knows what the Lakers — who are without standing running back J.T. Willis, who had surgery to repair a torn ACL two weeks ago — must do this week to emerge victorious and match their win total from a year ago.
“No. 1, turnovers,” he said. “We are 3-0 when we throw no interceptions.
“Second, team defense. We have to contain Jarrett. And third, senior leadership. We need to focus on Week 9.”