Lakeland Muskies vs. Carthage Football Preview
Athletics - posted on 9/7/2006
The Lakeland College football team will begin a four-week stretch of home games Saturday when the Muskies host Carthage College in a non-conference game. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. at Taylor Field.
Victory has eluded the Muskies the last two seasons against Carthage, as Lakeland has lost by just four points in each contest. Last fall, Lakeland took a 13-0 lead early in the third quarter, but saw their upset bid of the 15th-ranked Red Men fall short when junior halfback Namon Johnson gave Carthage a 20-16 lead with 12:19 left to play.
Carthage returns just four of starters from its league-leading defensive unit, but the Red Men return all but one player from their offensive line-up. Key losses for the Red Men include d3football.com third-team All-North Region safety/punter Donovan Moore and defensive end Michael Anderson.
Carthage opened its season last week with a 10-6 win at Carroll College. Trailing 6-0 in the final quarter, Namon Johnson blocked a punt with 10:23 left and Mark Januszewski returned the ball 20 yards for a touchdown, giving the Red Men a lasting 7-6 lead. The defense was the difference as back-to-back sacks by the Red Men's Dave Linn and Januszewski foiled the final Pioneer drive with under two minutes remaining.
Carroll had 134 total offensive yards to just 87 yards for Carthage. Carthage quarterback Brennan O'Boyle completed seven-of-15 passes for 55 yards.
Despite the personnel losses on defense, Lakeland head coach Jim Zebrowski expects Carthage to be the same quality opponent as seen the last few seasons.
"It's the same Carthage team we've played the last couple of years," explained Zebrowski. "They're a tough, physical team that plays really good defense, good special teams, a solid offense and they don't make many mistakes."
Zebrowski expects a physical game with the potential for a low-scoring battle. The Lakeland-Carthage games of the last few years came down to turnovers or special teams. "We know what they do," said Zebrowski. "We are totally prepared for it. We can't worry and we just have to improve as a team week to week."
Lakeland is anxious to rebound from last week's 75-14 loss to UW-Whitewater, the No. 2-ranked team in the nation.
"The big thing we need to do this week is correct our mistakes," said Zebrowski. "We need to not turn over the ball, create some turnovers of our own and minimize penalties. It comes down to controlling those things we can control. Our penalties last week were all correctable. We have to stop our mistakes and see what happens."
Lakeland's offensive line will be a key this week in protecting junior QB Brad Wilk against Carthage's aggressive blitzing defense. The Muskies had 352 total yards of offense against Whitewater as Wilk had 276 yards passing. Junior receiver MacArthur White had four catches for 94 yards and a touchdown and freshman Isiah Calhoun had three catches for 83 yards and a TD.
"The whole line, protection wise, looked good last week," Zebrowski said. "Whitewater has a very good defensive line. For Carthage we've prepared multiple looks. We're going to have to run and throw the ball a little more offensively. Defensively, we're going to have to stop the big plays."
While most teams played a scrimmage game before their season opener, Lakeland was unable to schedule a scrimmage, so their first live action was last week's game at Whitewater.
"Looking back, we had no scrimmage and didn't get a chance to work out the kinks," said Zebrowski. "Any coach will tell you the most crucial weeks of improvement come between week one and week two. Hopefully we show improvement and play
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