It would be foolish to call a Week 5 high school football game a must-win.
So consider Thursday’s game between Lakewood and Fossil Ridge a very-much-like-to-win contest for the SaberCats if they care to make the playoffs.
The postseason in Class 5A is narrowed to 16 teams this year, so it could easily take eight wins for Fossil Ridge to make the party.
This final nonconference game of the season (6 p.m. Thursday at French Field) pits two teams with good records accumulated against weak schedules. Both will be desperate to add a strong win to their resumes.
To win, Lakewood must: Hit big plays. Lakewood has been explosive on offense this year. Even though they’re a run-heavy team, the Tigers have thrown 74 passes and 11 have resulted in touchdowns.
Lakewood’s top three receivers are averaging, at least, 19 yards per reception between them, with a total of 10 touchdowns. The team is scoring 46 points per game.
Fossil Ridge’s front-seven has been strong this season and the defense has five interceptions. If Lakewood continues to hit explosive plays, it can stay undefeated with a road win.
To win, Fossil Ridge must: Make Lakewood play from behind. The Tigers are 4-0, but their opponents have a combined record of 4-12. Lakewood did beat a Bear Creek team that rolled past Fossil Ridge last week.
The common theme in Lakewood’s games is a large early lead. The Tigers have been up by 24, 41 and 22 at halftime in three of their wins. The only time the score was close was a halftime tie against Bear Creek that turned into a 10-point victory.
Fossil Ridge needs to apply early pressure to make Lakewood play in the uncomfortable position of chasing the game. The SaberCats felt the reverse effect last week, going down 14-3 at half and 21-3 in the third quarter to Bear Creek.
Those holes are hard to dig out of and Fossil Ridge needs to jump out in front in order to pick up a key win to end nonconference play.
Follow sports reporter Kevin Lytle at twitter.com/Kevin_Lytle and at facebook.com/KevinSLytle.
Lakewood vs. Fossil Ridge, 6 p.m. Thursday at French Field
Twitter updates: @Kevin_Lytle