SAYBROOK TOWNSHIP —
The Lakeside Dragons outrushed, outpassed and outgained the University School Preppers and committed few penalties.
Still, though, coach Frank Hall’s squad came out on the short end of a 30-20 verdict Saturday afternoon.
That’s what being minus-3 in the all-important turnover-ratio category will do to a team.
And as Lakeside (2-4, 0-3) treks to Eastlake tonight to take on the winless North Rangers (0-6, 0-3), Hall makes no bones about last week’s outcome.
“It’s the second game I believe we gave away in the fourth quarter,” he said after watching his Dragons get outscored in the second half, 23-7. “Finishing is the key, both in the game and in practice, and it seems like we put the cruise button on and try to just get by.”
That’s not nearly good enough, either.
“Again, being OK is not OK,” he said. “We need to get that attitude of wanting to be great, not just OK.
“I’m not very happy with our mental effort, right now.”
That having been said, there were some positives last week at US. Most notably, the quick-strike attack, led by quarterback Tyler Loftus, that opened the door to an 86-yard touchdown connection with Johnny Evans and a 72-yarder to Nick Meola, along with a 6-yard toss to Marcell Ballenger.
“I thought we played well, at times,” Hall said. “We made some big plays.
“With that being said, we are still giving away too many plays, not scoring in the red zone... turnovers... giving up the big play on defense.
“It’s not OK to just be OK and I think we are just playing — and coaching — OK, right now.”
More than that will be needed tonight if Lakeside is to beat North for only the second time in history. The Rangers lead the all-time series, 7-1, having won three in a row, including a 16-8 triumph last fall at Lakeside Stadium, since then-coach Bill Lipps’ Dragons recorded a 28-24 victory in 2009.
“North has changes from a spread offense to a double-wing, which is totally opposite in the football world,” Hall said. “It makes it a tough practice week as we need to cover both offenses so that we are prepare for anything.
“Defensively, they run a 3-3-5 and like to send people.”
He knows what must be taken care of tonight to make the eastbound trip on Interstate 90 enjoyable.
“The mental factor, believing in ourselves, believing that we can beat PAC teams understanding what it takes, is a key,” Hall said. “Again, continue to run the football better (Lakeside ran 32 times for only 74 yards last week at US). We must be balanced on offense.
“And we can’t give up big plays on defense. We must keep everything in front of us.”
He does see progress being made, despite having lost three games in a row since a 25-0 win against visiting Jefferson.
“Winning is a learned process and we are continuing to learn that process,” Hall said. “You can look at our season, how we have started slow or how we haven’t finished games, practice is to up and down.
“We need to learn that winning isn’t a sometime thing, but an all-the-time thing.”
The former Harbor great believes in his guys.
“I have great group of seniors who have bought in since Day 1,” the former assistant coach at Chardon said. “The young guys have seen this and are getting better each day.”
And there’s more to being a winner than winning games, he said.
“I think you can see the progress on and off the field,” Hall said. “No one has given up around here. We had are best practice of the year on Tuesday. We’re starting to practice fast, which leads to us playing fast.
“Believing is our biggest enemy, right now... believing that we can be great not just OK... not just being great in football, but in life.”