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No. 5 Lakeridge locks down South Medford

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Panthers play with plenty of effort to hang with Pacers early, but come up short in second half

Effort isn’t something that can be quantified on a scoreboard or stat sheet, but the South Medford High football team showed plenty of it for the better part of Friday’s game, and their head coach took note.

In a matchup against No. 5-ranked Lakeridge, the Panthers matched the Pacers’ offense early and came close to taking a lead midway through the second quarter. Then, a turnover on downs combined with a quick strike from Lakeridge swung momentum away from South and sucked the air out of the home crowd at Spiegelberg Stadium.

That play, combined with a long touchdown drive to open the second half, was enough for Lakeridge (4-0) to remain undefeated in a 30-7 win. Meanwhile, South (0-4) will go into Week 5 seeking its first win in what has been an unforgiving early-season schedule for a young team trying to grow up in a hurry.

“We’re trying to find out a lot about ourselves,” South Medford head coach Bill Singler said. “It’s a very transitional team ... three or four returning starters, so a lot of new kids that came up through freshman football, and instead of going through the JV ranks, they’re right up in varsity (and) they’re not strong enough yet. But, we played with a lot of effort, I thought, especially early in the first half. We just got to keep plugging along and hopefully get to some games where we just don’t get warn down by bigger, more physical teams.”

After South went three-and-out to start the game, Lakeridge put together a 14-play drive that ended in a 4-yard touchdown run from senior Jake Reichle, who led the Pacers with 149 yards on 24 carries and three touchdowns.

The drive took more than half of the opening quarter, but the Panthers’ offense responded and kept the chains moving. Junior quarterback Deacon Edgar connected with receivers Andrew Walker and Ty Henry for gains of 13 yards apiece, then mixed in runs with Colton Samis, Carson Joe and Edgar to move into the red zone.

Faced with 4th-and-1 from the 8-yard line, Edgar bought extra time against the swarming Pacers defense and rolled to his right to find Samis in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown, tying the game at 7-all with 8:27 left in the half. Edgar ended the game with 66 passing yards on nine completions, three each to Samis and Walker.

South’s defense then got in on the action by forcing a three-and-out on Lakeridge, with junior Isaack Valdez getting home for a sack on Lakeridge senior quarterback Danny Johnson.

The Panthers took favorable field position at the Lakeridge 42-yard line, but the drive was halted six plays later when Lakeridge sophomore Tashi Crofut sacked Edgar on fourth down, turning the Panthers over on downs.

The very next play, Johnson, who started the game in place of junior quarterback Ryan Oliver, hit sophomore receiver Joey Olsen for a 65-yard touchdown to give the Pacers the lead heading into halftime.

Much like the beginning of the first half, Lakeridge put together another methodical drive to start the third quarter, which lasted 15 plays and again ended with a Reichle 4-yard touchdown run, this time putting Lakeridge ahead 21-7 with less than four minutes left in the fourth quarter.

“I thought they played well. You got to give it to them,” Singler said of Lakeridge. “Both drives were about eight minutes long, which doesn’t give us very many possessions, and if they score that makes it even doubly tougher because you have to score with them.

“You know, I thought our guys played well in the first half. We at least came out and played with effort, kept us in the game at 14-7, and that’s good, especially against a top-10 team in the state.”

It was the second week in a row South faced a top-10 team in 6A after playing No. 4 Lake Oswego last week, part of a gauntlet opening schedule that also included McNary and Bend. Next week, the Panthers’ schedule won’t get much easier when they begin Southwest Conference play at Sheldon (3-1), currently ranked No. 10 in the state.

“We just got to keep plugging along,” Singler said. “We don’t have any illusions about ourselves. We’re not a playoff team, we’re not a team competing for a conference championship, we’re just a team that’s trying to find an identity. We’re just trying to find ourselves, and we’re gonna stay at it when we come back Sunday.”

Lakeridge7779—30

South Medford0700—7

L — Reichle 4 run (Emmett kick)

SM — Samis 8 pass from Edgar (Parker kick)

L — Olsen 65 pass from Johnson (Emmett kick)

L — Reichle 4 run (Emmett kick)

L — Reichle (Emmett kick)

L — Safety

Reach Will Denner at 541-776-4479 or wdenner@mailtribune.com.

Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneSouth Medford's Andrew Walker goes for a reception before it gets broken up by Lakeridge's Zachary Larson during the 3rd quarter Friday.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneSouth Medford's defense stops Lakeridge's Ethan Biondine for a loss during the 3rd quarter.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneSouth Medford quarterback Deacon Edgar sneaks away for a first down during the 4th quarter.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneSouth Medford's defense stops Lakeridge's Jake Reichle for a loss during the 1st quarter.