For Lakeside coach Randy Hill, busy wasn't the word to describe his first experience on the field as a head coach. Instead, he said, it was chaotic.
Westside probably had a little something to do with that.
Patriots running back Aundra Ellison rushed for 115 yards on 24 carries, and Obi Egekeze kicked a career-high 54-yard field goal to lead Westside to a season-opening 20-0 victory against the Panthers on Friday at Panther Stadium.
Still, Hill wasn't too concerned with his team, despite Lakeside's six turnovers and its early-game defensive letdown.
"It was the weather," said Hill as he shuffled through the mud on a rain-drenched field. "We don't have those kind of power fullbacks and power tailbacks. Westside does. They're a seasoned team. Seasoned teams can play in the rain.
"But it doesn't concern me. We don't fumble in practice."
The Panthers, whose defense was solid after allowing two big scores in the first quarter, certainly couldn't hang onto the ball Friday.
Fumbling the ball eight times - and losing it five - the Panthers (0-1) allowed the Patriots all the leeway they'd need.
"We have to get used to weather like this," Hill said. "We're green."
Westside (1-0) was quick to take advantage.
Patriot junior Austin Ducey returned the game-opening kickoff 84 yards for a score before wide receiver Tony Lezotte threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Brandon Satcher on a reverse halfback option.
That was all the Patriots would need.
"That pumped us up," Westside coach Gerald Barnes said. "Those are the things we do. Austin did a good job on the kick return. He got a couple of key blocks, and he made a nice return."
Westside was just as solid on defense. Holding the Panthers to 89 yards of total offense (only 26 in the second half) and four first downs, the Patriots' defenders finished the game in style when defensive back Scott Logan intercepted Lakeside quarterback Richard Flake with less than 2 minutes to play.
"Our defense really played strong," Ellison said. "They did better than our coaches and some of our players thought they would."
The award for the most exciting play, though, goes to Egekeze.
After booting a 25-yard field goal to give Westside a 17-0 lead in the second quarter, he nailed a 54-yarder as time expired in the first half to end the scoring.
"It was just visualization," the junior said. "If you visualize, you can do pretty much anything. I just concentrated. That's all I did."
Reach Josh Katzowitz at (706) 823-3216 or email@example.com.
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