NEWARK — Tanner Lake’s first position is quarterback.
With each passing game, Lake is showing he is a pretty good receiver, too. Newark Catholic has dominated possession throughout its first four games because of its balanced attack, but Lake, a junior, is quickly becoming the Green Wave’s go-to player.
Lake’s leaping catch over Licking Heights’ Keshawn Moore late in the first quarter of this past Saturday’s game gained 34 yards and gave the Green Wave the ball at the 1-yard line. A play later, Kris Goodman scored on a quarterback sneak.
“(Lake) has done a great job,” said Goodman, who nearly hit Lake on an identical play in the same corner of the field on the Green Wave’s final drive.
“He is a great athlete, a great receiver. He has made catches like that before. We were just trying to score at the end.”
While Lake has shown the ability to be a dangerous deep threat, he primarily hurt Heights underneath. Because the Hornets were playing off in coverage much of the night, many of Lake’s seven catches were on quick passes at the line of scrimmage after which he made defenders miss to get extra yardage.
Lake had 88 receiving yards, gaining a first down on five of his seven catches. The Green Wave were 5-of-9 on fourth downs.
“How about the jitter move?” coach Bill Franks said. “It was a nice move on a quick pass. He caught it and could have gotten two yards and ended up getting 10.”
While Lake ranks among the area leaders in receiving, Goodman does not exclusively look to his new favorite target. Goodman completed passes to seven different receivers, including one which was tipped back to him, against the Hornets. Kyle Gibson connected with an eighth, Cole Buchanan, on a trick play during the final minutes.
“I think we have a lot of good receivers, so we try to use all of them,” Goodman said. “We have definitely gotten better each week.”
It has been the more the merrier for the NC running game, too. With much of Heights’ attention focused on Wes Jurden, the Green Wave picked up key yards on jet sweeps to Jud Lewis and Grant Rausch.
“What we always try to do is develop balance and take what the defense gives us,” Franks said. “I like where our offense is right now. We’re growing, we’re sound, lots of people are involved making plays, and that’s a good recipe.”
A victory would have given NC a large amount of playoff points in their quest to reach the Division VI postseason. Still, the loss was an indication of how difficult the Green Wave will be to beat in October.
“We definitely know how to play in close games,” Goodman said. “Our team has a lot of fight and heart. We are very close, and I think we just have a good connection.”
Aug. 28: New. Cath. 28, @P. West 12
Sept. 5: New. Cath. 27, N-York 26, OT
Sept. 11: New. Cath. 21, @Academy 20
Sept. 19: Heights 21, New. Cath. 13
Sept. 25: @Lakewood, 7 p.m.
Oct. 3: Heath, 7 p.m.
Oct. 8: @Johnstown, 7 p.m.
Oct. 16: @Utica, 7 p.m.
Oct. 24: Northridge, 8 p.m.
Oct. 31: Watkins Memorial, 7 p.m.