How do you overcome the loss of one of the Shore’s best quarterbacks?
How did Lakewood improve to 3-1 when the Piners have not had a winning season in 10 years?
By overcoming adversity – at least that’s what coach L.J. Clark, a 1999 Lakewood graduate, will tell you.
Having 15-year-old Chapelle Cook as your quarterback backup plan sure helps. Subbing for potential Division I/II recruit Tyrice Beverette, Cook watched his older brother Anthony get knocked out of the game on the opening kickoff after taking a helmet to the knee.
When a gritty Manchester team took its first lead of the game at 13-12, early in the fourth quarter, Cook responded with a 63-yard touchdown ramble on the Piner next offensive snap. Cook would finish with 196 yards rushing and Lakewood survived Manchester, 20-13, in a Class B South matchup.
“Seeing my brother go down, that pushed me the most,” said Cook. “I almost could not hold it in. When they scored, I knew it was my turn to punch it in and that’s what I did.”
“This year is different,” said coach Clark. “Two years ago, we would have lost this game. We are building. We are overcoming adversity. Chapelle … that was his second varsity start. I’m hard on him, he has potential.”
Beverette is expected back for Lakewood’s next game against Jackson Liberty in two weeks.
From the game’s opening play this game was full of mixed signals. Manchester fumbled the kick-off and Piner Ben Watson recovered. But, Anthony Cook’s knee left him wreathing on the field in pain for a full five minutes. Lakewood took over at the Hawk 26 and three plays later Tyron Wemberly (6-40) cut back from the right side to the middle of the field during an 18-yard touchdown run.
Early in the second stanza, Lakewood upped its lead to 12-0 on a 14-yard sprint to the corner of the endzone by Herby White (5-42). Manchester repeatedly drove into Lakewood territory and lost the ball on downs six times in the game. The Hawks (0-4), still searching for their first win, did answer back in the second quarter. Quarterback Devin Tomei passed to Josh Guzman for 37 yards on a fourth down play, then ran over left tackle on an eight yard touchdown run.
Lakewood led, 12-7, but Manchester drove 60 yards on its next possession, stalling out at the Piner 22-yard line.
Gage Warren blocked a punt to set up Manchester at the Piner 39 yard line, but the Hawks failed to score and the third period was scoreless. But Tomei (13-32-0-222) connected with Mason Jones on a 68-yard scoring strike to give Manchester its 13-12 lead early in the fourth. Thanks to Cook – that lead lasted all of 11 seconds.