LAKE PLACID - Heavy rains saturated Roger Scarborough Memorial Field in Lake Placid to the point that the game was nearly called due to the field being unplayable. But it did little to dampen the spirits of a Lake Placid team that has high expectations this year.
Despite losing in the preseason classic to the Okeechobee Brahmans by a score of 8-0, it was apparent that the Green Dragons are a team to take serious this year.
Lake Placid coach Jason Holden said the preseason opener against Okeechobbe reflected poorly on how the rest of the season will go.
"Our effort was great and that we will carry over" Holden said, "This team has high expectations of themselves and that showed tonight, but our execution has got to get a lot better."
The game itself ended up being somewhat like a scrimmage game due to the condition of the field. There were no kickoffs, teams started on there on 30 and there was no rushing or punt returns.
Both teams also decided to play their Junior Varsity in the first quarter while the varsity game would start in the second quarter.
Lake Placid won the one quarter junior varsity game, 6-0 off a 70 yard touchdown run by Prentiss Legree. Okeechobee mounted a drive towards the end of the quarter, but Lake Placid's Markie McCray intercepted a pass to seal the win for the JV.
Lake Placid was able to move the ball for most of the night, but drives stalled due penalties or turnovers. Okeechobee on the other hand went straight to a no huddle offense and drove the ball 70 yards in eight plays to take an 8-0 lead on a 24 yard touchdown pass from Cory Surls to Daniel Nunez in the left corner of the end zone.
Twice in the third quarter, Lake Placid was able to move the ball deep into Okeechobee territory. The first time they reached the Brahmans' 25 and the second they made it to the 13 before turning the ball over on downs on both occasions.
Okeechobee was also able to move the ball well, but scoring threats faded away as the rain made a reappearance to make an already wet ball even slicker. That, and an aggressive Green Dragon defense, resulted in two fumbles that were recovered by Lake Placid.
With seven minutes left in the game, Lake Placid drove the ball into Brahman territory, but Okeechobee ended the Green Dragons' scoring threat when the Brahmans intercepted a Robert Walton pass at the 20 yard line.
Now with less than three minutes left to play, Okeechobee ran out the clock to hold on to the win.
Despite the loss, Holden praised his team's effort while also pointed out that the execution stunk.
"Not all night, the field had something to do with it," he said. "They had a straight-ahead game and a sloppy field plays to their advantage. We have to learn how to finish plays. That's why we play this game, to see what we are good at and what we need to work on."
"Penalties and fumbles," Holden said. "I know the ball is wet, but we got to take care of the ball. Preseason is over and we are ready to go, I'm excited. I'm proud of you guys, but we got to do better, we have to improve on the things we did not do well, we got to be perfect. We've got to try to be perfect."
Holden said that key players such as linebacker Malachi McLean and Walton have taken more of a leadership role on the team.
"Malachi (McLean) is a big strong kid," Holden said. "He's smart. He understands the game and is very coachable. We feel he is our best defensive player which is why we put him at middle linebacker."
He also said that Walton tried to become a leader but did not quite understand that role, but this year he has taken to it very well.
Holden also praised the play of his offensive line, crediting assistant Dominic Grande with the improvement.
"He was an offensive lineman in college in the wing-t so he understands the offense," Holden said. "These guys have really been working hard and the offensive line especially has really gelled. They are all a tight group, which is what you like to see. That's the most important part of your offense right there."
Injuries have plagued Lake Placid in the past and Holden admits that three players did not play Friday due to injury.
"We want to win every game, but we want to make sure we are 100 percent in time for districts," he said.
If Lake Placid can keep injuries to a minimum, Holden has players like Jerry Fields that can play almost any position.
"He is a kid we count on." Holden said. "He plays a lot of different positions and we plug him in anywhere. He just seems to know what to do."
Lake Placid opens the regular season Aug. 30 on the road against Celebration. Kick off is scheduled for 7 p.m.