WHITE LAKE — The socks told the story.
Wearing gold-colored socks in honor of cancer research, Lakeland gave a gold-plated effort on the gridiron Friday night at home, ripping league-rival Walled Lake Western 28-7 to knock Western out of first place in the LVC standings.
Lakeland senior running back Robbie Tracy had a monster outing in the stat sheet, motoring for 282 yards and all four of his team’s touchdowns. His 80-yard score on the first play of the night foreshadowed things to come. The Eagles rushed for 418 yards on the game.
“We were disciplined in our running scheme tonight, we grinded this out as a team,” said Tracy, refusing to bask in the post-game limelight all by himself. “The focus was there, the hard work was there and we capitalized on them both.”
Western’s lone score of the evening came on senior quarterback Sam Johnson’s 15-yard keeper in the final seconds of the first half to make it 14-7. Tracy found the end zone from 2 and 6 yards respectively in the second half. His 6-yarder at the 6:17 mark of the fourth quarter capped a drive where he gashed the Western defense for runs of 35 and 26 yards to get down the field into scoring position.
The victory lifted the Eagles record to 4-2 and kept them alive in the race for the LVC crown.
While South Lyon remains atop the standings, Western (4-2) drops into a tie for second with South Lyon East while Mott and Lakeland are a game behind tied in fourth place with three weeks to go.
Lakeland will be riding a three-game winning streak into its Week 7 road affair at Milford.
“Tonight, was a total team win ... we knew we weren’t going to beat those guys with our physical attributes and our athleticism, so we had to beat them with our mental toughness and just going out there and executing our game plan perfectly. That’s what we did. We kept to playing our brand of football, doing it at our pace and we popped a few big plays. We rode that momentum and it built on itself. A lot of those Western guys will be playing on Saturdays. I don't think it mattered too much in this game though and that's a tribute to the way my players took it to them from the very start.”
Western is a club filled with college recruits, led by Johnson, who is headed to Boston College and lineman Spencer Brown, committed to Michigan State. Lakeland doesn’t have any highly-sought-after college prospects and employs a brutish ground-and-pound attack. Tracey’s backfield mate, Dakota Myers, posted 90 yards in the rushing chart.
On defense, lineman Ben Roberts anchored the Eagles by recording 10 tackles and three sacks. Friday’s game was a “gold out,” with more than $2,000 raised for pediatric cancer research and fans sporting gold t-shirts to match their squad’s gold socks. The LVC preseason coaches poll listed Lakeland and Western as co-favorites in the league to begin the campaign.
For Western, Johnson finished the day 12-of-18 for 220 yards through the air. On the heels of back-to-back efforts where he eclipsed the 100-yard barrier toting the rock, Warriors’ junior running back C.J. Brown was limited to 28 yards by a swarming Lakeland defensive front.
“They didn’t do anything we didn’t expect or prepare for, we just failed to execute,” first-year Western head coach Alex Grignon said. “We had a bad week of practice and the result was a bad game on our part. Hopefully, this will be a wake-up call for us. We can't just show up and expect to win because of who we think we are.”