Local Sports

Dragons tangle with Manta Rays

Highlands - Itís the perfect match up for a low-budget science fiction movie. The nondistrict game pits the Lake Placid Green Dragons against the invasive Lemon Bay Manta Rays, and the Dragons will be trying to keep from getting stung tonight at Roger Scarborough Memorial Field. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. The season finale for both teams, the Class 5A Rays (4-4) are looking to end the year with a winning record while the Dragons (2-6) are trying to finish a disappointing season on a positive note. Lake Placid will have its hands full trying to stop a potent Lemon Bay offense, though, as the Manta Rays have outscored their last three opponents 143-14.
Lemon Bay also brings its three-game win streak into town, and the history between the two teams hasnít been kind to Lake Placid. Dating back to 2007, the Dragons and Manta Rays have faced each other six times, with Lemon Bay holding a 5-1 advantage. Adding to the Green Dragons woes, their defense has given up at least 45 points in four straight games. But Gang Green has looked great on offense the last few games, playing arguably the best football it has all season. If mistakes are kept to a minimum, the Dragons could pull off the upset. Turnovers have been an issue for Lake Placid this year, but the Dragons had just one fumble last week against district rival Avon Park. Keeping their turnovers to a minimum, the Dragons kept pace with the Red Devils in a thrilling first half. But their defense simply wore down over the final two quarters. The key to a Lake Placid victory tonight is having the Dragons get solid performances out of their running game. Lake Placid has a three-headed monster in the back field, made up Eldon McKenzie, Marquavein Copeland, and Foster Walker. The trio has been playing well over the last two games, carrying the offense in back-to-back shootouts against Bishop Verot and the aforementioned Devils. Quarterback Robert Walton has played well also, limiting his fumbles on his exchanges with the center. But heíll need to watch his receivers closely, as the Manta Rays have a lot of height in their secondary. Lemon Bayís free safety is a staggering 6-foot-4, while a handful of other defensive backs stack up close to six-feet tall as well. It also doesnít help that two linemen weight over 300 pounds, with one towering at 6-foot-7 inches tall. Even the Manta Rays kicker stands over six feet. But taking down Lemon Bay isnít impossible. Itís happened for times this year. And Lake Placid is used to being overlooked ó Poinciana made that mistake earlier in the season and paid the price. Along with the challenges the Dragons offense will face, Lake Placidís defense will have its hands full with a high-octane passing offense ó and the Dragons havenít seen too many passing teams this season. The few they did, Cardinal Mooney and LaBelle, were routs. The games were tight from the outset, but the Dragons pass defense failed to slow down the air attack. Thatís what Lake Placid is hoping for tonight, though. Keep the game close, score early, minimize the mistakes, and have a chance to win late. Playing at home in front of a spirited crowd should help as well. Itís the Dragons game to lose. bhoward@highlandstoday.com 863-386-5841 Where: Roger Scarborough Memorial Field When: Tonight at 7 Cost: $5