SHRUB OAK, N.Y. – Lakeland fought hard against visiting John Jay (Cross River) last week, but the defending Section 1 Class A champions proved to be too much for the Hornets, who lost 35-21.
Lighting up the stat sheet in defeat was the quarterback-wide receiver tandem of Tyler Santucci (25-41, 401 yards, 3 TD) and Landon Ruggieri (10 catches, 197 yards, 3 TD).
The pass-heavy offense was part of the Hornets’ game plan, said Lakeland coach Mike Meadows.
“We passed a lot because we knew it was going to be difficult to run the ball against them,” Meadows said. “Their defensive line is big and fast. Coach (Ryan) Shilling, our offensive coordinator, did a nice job game- planning this week. We moved the ball well, just didn’t put the ball in the end zone enough.”
Rob Nardelli (5 catches, 46 yards), Mike Castelli (3 catches, 48 yards), Danny Libretti (3 catches, 67 yards, 15 tackles), Mark Cummins (1 catch, 23 yards, 1 TD), Matt Makar (4 catches, 18 yards), John Giufridda (11 tackles, 2 fumble recoveries), Jason Green (8 tackles) and Jorge Duque (7 tackles) all contributed to the host Hornets’ effort.
Lakeland trailed at halftime by seven points, 21-14, but John Jay pulled away in the second half.
“Overall I feel like my team played tough. I am very proud of them,” Meadows said. “John Jay (Cross River) is an excellent football program, led by an excellent coach (Jimmy Clark). They are the defending champs for a reason. We played them hard. But at the end of the day we got a lot to improve on and have to make more plays.”
Lakeland’s final regular-season game is a home game against their sister school, Walter Panas (7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 11).
“We have to learn from our mistakes in this game and put all of our focus and attention on Panas,” Meadows said. “They are our crosstown rival and it’s the pink game, which is a huge community event when everyone comes together for a great cause. I know our place will be rocking. We are looking forward to the challenge they present.”