Written by Mark Griffin
August 28, 2009
The football game between rival schools Northwood and Lake has been tabbed "The Lemoyne Road Rivalry" or "The Battle for Lemoyne Road."
That rivalry will be renewed on Friday, Sept. 4 at Northwood, where the two-time defending Toledo Area Athletic Conference champion Rangers will host the Flyers from the Suburban Lakes League.
"With a school that is so close, it's hard for the game not to be considered a rivalry," third-year Lake coach Bob Abbey said. "The kids know each other and in some cases are related. People in the community use the win as bragging rights and there's a lot of passion that goes into this game."
Northwood trailed early but rolled to a 38-13 win over Lake last season.
"They jumped out to a 13-0 lead, but we managed to keep our poise and come back to win," said the Rangers' 24th-year coach, Ken James. "Coach Abbey is definitely getting their program turned around. Their numbers are up, they have a good off-season program, and the players seem really excited about their prospects for this season."
The Flyers, who are looking to build on last year's 3-7 record, return seven starters on offense and five on defense.
Abbey said after jumping out to a two-touchdown lead against Northwood last season, the Rangers' "strength and speed took over and they handled us pretty easily."
"Coach James' teams are always physical, fundamentally strong and well prepared," Abbey said. "They play with passion and intensity."
Northwood, which returns nine starters from last year's 9-1 squad, was picked to win its third straight TAAC title. James, who is 118-117 during his career with the Rangers, has a 6-6 record against Lake. Two of those matchups stand out for the veteran coach.
"In 1997 we had a 29-15 lead with 52 seconds left in the game," he recalled. "Lake scored on a deep pass, fielded an onside kick, missed a two-point conversion and got another onside kick as time was running out. The game ended with Lake on our 30-yard line and the score 29-27.
"Ironically, we had 29 points because of a two-point conversion in the first half. We didn't normally go for two, but our quarterback, who was also our PAT snapper, was injured while throwing a TD pass, so our backup quarterback entered the contest and provided the winning margin."
James called the Rangers' shutout win over the Flyers in 2003 "a bloodbath."
"The ball basically stayed between the 30-yard lines," he said. "The only score was a 40-yard fumble return for a TD by our cornerback."
This year's game will feature Lake's spread/option offense, under the direction of junior quarterback Alan Martinez, against the Rangers' wishbone offense led by Erik Russell. The junior quarterback was a split end last year but is now Northwood's starting quarterback.