A 35-point first half deficit proved too much for the Lehman Lobos to overcome Friday as they capped off a winless season with a 49-25 loss to the Akins Eagles Friday.
Despite suffering the program’s 17th loss in a row, Lobo head coach Bruce Salmon praised his team for showing up “each and every week” and battling no matter what.
“We fought all the way until the end, got off to a little bit of a slow start tonight, but it says a lot about what they are trying to do,” Salmon said. “Sometimes it didn’t always reflect on the scoreboard, but they’ve helped kind of lay a foundation that we can build off of in the future.”
Everything went wrong for the Lobos in the first half as they weren’t able to move the ball on offense, had multiple breakdowns on defense, and struggled on special teams.
Akins’ offense moved the ball at will as senior quarterback Nicholas Cagle threw three passing touchdowns and rushed for one in the first half. Eagles senior running back Ausere Ivey also got into the end zone in the second quarter with a one-yard touchdown run.
“We had some mental mistakes, and a couple of breakdowns and missed assignments that got us behind and then the turnover on the kickoff where they got the ball back on the onside,” Salmon said. “It kind of shell shocked us a little bit, but we ended up coming back from that and ended up doing a lot better (in the second half).”
The Lobos showed heart and grit in the second half as they were able to find their rhythm on offense and play physical on defense. Lehman sophomore quarterback Bryant Lewis finished the game with 150 yards rushing and three total touchdowns on 14 carries. Lobo junior running back Keyshaun Williams rushed the ball 15 times for 58 yards, while sophomore Phillip Garcia added 36 yards on 11 carries for the Lehman offense.
Although the Lobo offense got on track in the second half, the Eagles’ lead was too much to overcome as Cagle scored two more rushing touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Cagle had six total touchdowns on the night, as well as 169 yards rushing on 17 carries and 72 yards passing on four completions.
As rough as the season was for Lehman, Salmon liked the perseverance that the senior class showed week to week.
“This group has been through three head coaches, and just tying everything together the perseverance part is a big deal,” Salmon said. “They are going to remember each other and they are going to remember how they fought through things together. That’s the thing that high school football kind of does, it kind of cements a lot of that brotherhood together.”
The overall record doesn’t always reflect what is going on behind the scenes in a football program, and Salmon believes the culture at Lehman has taken major strides this season. One of the major totem poles was reducing the amount of players missing games due to poor grades.
Salmon estimated the program dropped its failure rate by 21 percent in 2018, which allowed the program to “hold onto a lot of the kids.”
“They’ve taken care of business with the character in the class, and what they played with and displayed, and community service stuff they did is a huge thing, too,” Salmon said. “Those are things you don’t see on a Friday night, but those kind of character things is what’s going to build consistency in the kids.”