The Lake Forest High School football team has ended a 15-year postseason drought by earning the No. 3 seed in this year's Division II state tournament.
It’s been a long 15 years for the Lake Forest High School football program.
Not since the mid-1990s have the Spartans been able to call themselves state title contenders, as they’ve failed to reach the postseason for the past decade and a half.
All that has changed this fall, however, as Head Coach Freddie Johnson’s squad is playoff bound, earning the No. 3 seed in this year’s Division II Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association state tournament.
The Spartans (8-2) will host No. 6 Archmere Academy (7-3) in the first round at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 19, at James H. Blades Stadium, Felton.
The playoffs are a new experience for this group of Lake players, Johnson said, so preparation this week is going to be just as much mental, if not more, than physical.
“It’s about making them aware that this is it,” he said. “If you win you go on, you lose you go home. We have to stress the importance of this game and the importance of practice. Again, this could be their last game and for the seniors, it could be their last game ever.
“We have to drill that into our kids and hopefully it sinks in.”
The Lake Forest community has been waiting a long time to cheer on playoff football, Johnson added, and it’s important to draw from that emotion.
“I don’t know what to expect in that stadium,” he said. “It’s going to be exciting for our fans, our community and our school, and they’ll be up for it. I think our kids can feed off the excitement and enthusiasm from our fans.”
As the Spartans enter the first round game, they do so in a position they haven’t been in since week two of the season, as they’re coming off a loss to Milford High School, 16-14, Nov. 12.
It marked the first defeat for Lake since it fell in the opening game of the season to Polytech High School, 27-26, back on Sept. 10.
Following that loss, however, the Spartans outplayed their opponent in the next game — ironically, beating Archmere, 33-24 — and rattled off eight straight wins.
Johnson said he’s hoping for similar results coming off a defeat this time around.
“Our kids came into the season confident and feeling like they were going to be a good team,” he said. “That loss to Polytech made us realize we had to work harder. That was an eye opener. We went on an eight-game win streak and now I’m hoping they bounce back with that same attitude and continue to work hard.”
Even though the Spartans were able to get the better of the Auks in the regular season, Johnson said that was no reason to be overconfident heading into the playoffs.
In recent weeks, he said, Archmere’s offense has been explosive and cannot be taken for granted, especially with the season on the line now.
“Our kids know they’re going to be in for a battle, they know this team is going to be pretty good,” Johnson said.
WHO No. 3 Lake Forest High School vs. No. 6 Archmere Academy
WHEN 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 19
WHERE James H. Blades Stadium, 5407 Killens Pond Road, Felton
MORE INFO http://diaa.ticketleap.com
Email Brian Citino at firstname.lastname@example.org