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Lake View High School

 

Lake View begins quest for Class A state title

By David Shelton

Senior Writer

Lake View – The 2018 football season for the Lake View Wild Gators has been a little quirky, to say the least.

Lake View, like many schools in the Pee Dee and Grand Strand, had its 2018 season interrupted by Hurricane Florence. In the end, the Wild Gators missed only one regular season game, with Marion, but was set back in terms of practices.

Once play resumed, Lake View suffered their third loss of the season, falling to defending state champion Lamar in a game that was put together after the storm to fill a void in both schedules.

Since the loss to Lamar, Lake View has not lost a game, finishing the regular season with a 6-3 overall record and winning the region 6-A title.

Due to their success, Lake View was granted a first-round bye in the 12-team Lower State field of playoff teams. That, coupled with no game on October 26th, will give Lake View three weeks in between games. While using the time off to heal up some injured players and work on fundamentals is a plus, Lake View head coach Daryl King would rather be playing.

“I don’t like the bye really, at any time,” King said. “It just so happens we were not able to make up our game with Marion last week because they had to play Dillon in a region game. So that left us with back-to-back open weeks. I’m not real thrilled about that. We were playing some good football here at the end of the season. I would have liked to play Marion but it didn’t work out. But even so, I don’t like the bye week in the playoffs. I would like to keep playing and see if we couldn’t build on the momentum.”

As it stands, by the time Lake View plays their 10th game of this season, they would have had four weeks off.

King and his staff are using the practice time to keep the players sharp and improving.

“The kids know the deal and they know we don’t have a game this week but they are practicing well,” the coach said. “We’re really just working on us, trying to fix some things and continue to improve on what we do fundamentally. We are getting in a lot of individual work and trying to maintain our focus. There’s a fine line with how much you do. Things like how long do we stay out there and stuff like that. We want to keep them sharp but we don’t want to over-do it.”

Lake View closed the regular season with a 39-21 win over Hemingway. The game was tied at 21 at halftime but the defense clamped down and the offense made big plays.

Sophomore quarterback Adarrion Dawkins continues to make progress this season. Dawkins has completed 36-of-58 passes for 555 yards this season. His primary targets have been Dionte Roberts and Fred Reaves.

Dawkins also contributes in the running game, rushing for 836 yards on 94 carries. Senior running back Benjy Kelley has rushed for 856 yards.

Leaders along the offensive front have been Elijah Fleming, Nick Evans and Alex Huggins. King says junior Malik McDuffie has worked himself into a starting position at guard.

“He’s worked hard and he earned a shot a few weeks ago,” King said. “He went from standing on the sideline with me to being a starter and he’s doing well.”

Defensively, one of the more consistent players has been senior free safety Tahja Nesmith, who had a pick six in a win against Green Sea-Floyds to seal a hard-fought region win.

Senior linebacker Tieray Blue has missed several games with an injured shoulder. The team leader on defense is questionable for the state playoffs.

Other defensive personnel include linebacker Jordan King, linemen Shyon Gilchrist and Bryson Grimsley, and defensive backs Willie Wheeler, Shamar Horne and Keshawn Hanford.

King has stressed to his team the importance of being mentally prepared for every game. The Wild Gators’ likely second-round opponent is St. John’s, a team that has been ranked in the Class A top 10 for most of the season.

“It’s do or die now, plain and simple,” the coach said. “You can’t lose now, wake up the next day and say we’ll get them this week. You have to be ready to perform.

“We are as healthy as we’ve been since week two. There are no excuses for us not to be at 100 percent. We don’t have any sprains or pulls. Other than two guys we lost earlier this season to broken legs, we should be good to go.”

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