Indians shut out Lake Forest

An effective ground game allowed Indian River’s varsity football squad to add a few more experiments to the playbook as they shut out Lake Forest last Friday, 42-0.

So far, the Indians have had to overcome something that no other conference contender has had to this year: play five straight division games, with a sixth one just around the bend. Indian River recovered Friday, Oct. 17, proving that their only season loss, to Milford two weeks ago, was in fact a “hiccup” as head coach Jim Bunting stated, and the first five games of the season were indeed not a fluke. They will be tested again this Friday, Oct 24, as they square off against the 5-2 Laurel team.

Bunting said he hopes to enter the game with some new plays and strategies that he had the opportunity to try out against Lake Forest.

“There are some offensive things that we took a look at,” he said. “There’s really no better place to try new designs than under the lights. We had some rain, too, which added some adversity to it.”

He has utilized the option and short, quick passes that he hopes can prove effective against Laurel.

“Our demise at Milford,” he added, “was we couldn’t get to the outside because the corners were coming so hard. By doing slants and outs, we put pressure on the corners to soften up. Our guys are not going to change things for anybody. What we want to do is add to it and layer it, bring more stuff to our offense that will cause them trouble.”

In seasons past, Laurel’s team has built a reputation for its size.

“They’re going to bang and be big,” said Bunting. “Offensively, if we can get through the air and get to the second tier, we’ll do alright. They’re going to stop our outside game. We have to prove affective in our throwing or at least represent a threat of it. Hopefully, that’ll be enough for them to back off.”

Despite the size differential, tight end and defensive end Shelby Dobly isn’t discouraged.

“Laurel has one of the biggest lines in our conference and one of the bigger ones in the state,” he said. “We have a tough line, and we may be smaller, but we can’t be stopped when we’re doing what we need to.”

The rushing game has been a powerful outlet for the Indians. Fullback Cody Cooke marked his second-most successful game last Friday, picking up 151 rushing yards on 11 carries and two touchdowns. Senior Tyree Oliver and sophomore Elijah Foreman maintained the running back positions, each scoring a touchdown and combining for 48 yards.

Junior Cory Showalter and senior Zach Kmetz also held down the offense with 22 and 24 rushing yards, respectively. Freshman quarterback Jamie Jarmon went 5-9 on the night in the air, throwing for 78 yards, and running five times for an additional 41. Bunting hopes the passing game will give Jarmon the chance to propel the team against Laurel.

“Jamie’s really developed leadership on the team,” said wide receiver and corner back Danny Bokinski.

“He really listens, too,” added Dolby. “The guys on the team don’t look at him as a freshman. He keeps his composure.”

The Indians were on point on the opposite side of the ball, too, hosting Lake Forest, registering 35 tackles and three picks from seniors Kmetz, Bokinski and Bo Wilkinson.

In their three home games so far this year, the Indians have outscored their opponents 133-13, averaging over 44 points each game, including shutouts against Washington and last Friday’s bout, hosting Lake Forest.

On the road has been a different story, though, with their only season loss dished out at Milford’s Briggs Stadium. Outside of Dagsboro, the Indians have only averaged 21 points per game. They’ll be looking for another win, regardless, this Friday, as they set up on Laurel’s home turf.

“I think our guys have prepared for this game,” said Bunting. “We have our calls with Tyree that we know we can do. Recently, we’ve worked on a couple of formations that no one has seen, on offense and special teams.”

Their onside kick and “fire” plays, utilized in a two-point conversion situation at Lake Forest, should keep the Laurel team on their toes.

“We keep putting plays in,” Bunting added, “but it’s not just to get these guys excited. There’s a purpose to them.”

As the Indians set for their fifth straight conference match-up, the tension is thickening with the title still in a four-way contention.

“You have to win all of the games you can for points in the playoffs,” said Bokinski. “You can’t overlook anyone. Every game is so important. It brings out our game. We’re going hard every play.”

“We want to win the conference for our past seniors, since we haven’t been able to clench it in the past few years,” added Dolby. “If we want it bad enough, we need to win against Laurel. All we have to do is go out there and play series for series. It’s our turn to finally step up and get the conference crown.”

While a few bangs and bruises are still mending themselves, Bunting anticipates a powerful game this Friday.

“Not often do you get a second chance like this,” he said. “We came up short in Milford. This has got to be true focus, now. I like to think we learn from our mistakes.”

This year, the Indian River team is going to have to prepare themselves for an unfamiliar Laurel offense, though.

“What I see out of Laurel that I haven’t seen in a long time is a successful passing game,” said Bunting. “Their quarterback can throw, and they have some receivers that can catch.”

The Laurel game holds with it a sense of pride, seeing as IR’s defensive coordinator, Mike Norton, and assistant coach Paul Kmetz have both had experience on the Laurel coaching staff.

“This isn’t necessarily a rivalry,” Bunting assured. “It’s a hatred. You’ve got to be crazy to think that it’s not going to be fed to them, too.”

The game will kick off at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 24, at Laurel High. The Indians will play host to Seaford on Halloween.