SIBLEY – By halftime of Friday night’s first-round playoff game, the dream was over for Lakeside. But what a dream it was for the Warriors, their re-invigorated fanbase and first-year head coach Jason McClendon.
Lakeside (7-4) was beaten handily by the Independence Tigers 56-16. Playing without Chase Mitchell and Logan McIver, the heart and soul of the Warrior offense and defense, respectively, there was not enough firepower for Lakeside to match scores with Independence, led by stud running back Anthony McClain.
The Warriors and their highflying offense were only able to score twice, putting their first points on the board shortly before halftime when Buffate Coleman churned his way into the end zone from 4-yards out. Sophomore quarterback Jordan Preuett connected with Gavin Jones for one last touchdown of the season in the final minute of the game, concluding what was a great season for both players.
The Warriors entered the season as losers of 23-straight games, snapping their losing streak on opening night against Ringgold 68-0. Lakeside raced out to a 5-1 start and had the parish buzzing, thanks in large part to a brand new coaching staff spearheaded by McClendon.
McClendon brought an elite mentality and a new catch phrase – row the boat – from the Houston area to Sibley, and the results speak for themselves. The first year head coach tried to sum up the season, clearly feeling the emotions of both a tough loss and spectacular season.
“We accomplished a lot in a short amount of time,” McClendon said. “I think we’ve changed the culture of Lakeside football and I’m very proud of what we were able to do as a program, a team and coaching staff. I’m proud for our seniors who get to leave here knowing what it tastes like to have a winning season and knowing what it takes to have success.
“We still have a long way to go, a lot of things to change mentally and emotionally. We need a great offseason, and if we do, I think we can have a better overall team next year.”