Westlake senior Aaris Reed couldn't decide between rewarding or relieving when asked to sum up his feelings after the eighth-ranked Wolverines' 18-6 victory over No. 13 Lackey. It was certainly a lot of both.
"It's a big step in the right direction," Reed said. "It gives us confidence that we can do the bigger things we want to do this year."
After losing to Lackey twice in each of the past two seasons -- once in the regular season and again in the Maryland 3A South Region final -- Westlake now has a huge monkey off it back. It also took a big edge away from Lackey, which saw the end of its 17-game home winning streak dating to 2002.
No longer will the Wolverines be dogged by their inability to overcome their Southern Maryland Athletic Conference rival.
"We circled this game, no doubt about it," Westlake Coach Dominic Zaccarelli said. "It's going to help with our confidence and our attitude. We wanted to be the ones to end that streak."
On a hot, humid night in front of approximately 3,000 in Indian Head, Westlake used its unparalleled depth to wear down the Chargers. The game lacked much of the flair both teams are capable of, but Westlake won by rotating a quintet of ball-carriers into its backfield and seldom asking players to line up on both sides of the ball.
That strategy kept the Wolverines fresh throughout, as they bullied Lackey to a 341-74 edge in total offense.
"When the defense gets worn down and they bring in guys who are 100 percent fresh, it's tough playing against that." said Lackey senior defensive back Dante Page, who scored the Chargers' only touchdown on a 56-yard punt return in the first quarter that tied the game at 6.
Westlake bottled up Lackey's offense at every turn. The Chargers managed just 14 rushing yards on 26 carries and completed only 6 of 24 passes.
"We were really in shape," said Westlake senior defensive end Shawn Lemon, who had two sacks. "Hopefully, that will take us far in the playoffs."
Westlake went ahead for good with 3 minutes 37 seconds to play in the first half, when senior quarterback Mike Pegues (9 of 14, 124 yards) threw the first of his two touchdown passes to running back Pha'Terrell Washington -- a 14-yard dump in the flat. Two jukes later, Washington was in the end zone to make it 12-6.
After Lackey opened the second half with its best and most sustained drive of the game -- an 11-play possession -- the Chargers could not convert on fourth and five at the Westlake 35. Westlake promptly took over, and, thanks in part to reserves Sean Allen -- who had a 31-yard run -- and Albert Hanks, who had a 17-yard carry -- finished the drive and the scoring on a 10-yard scoring pass to Washington.