Lake Forest’s QB dangerous with triple-option threat

Lake Freddie and Noah by .

Lake Forest High football coach Freddie Johnson and his son quarterback Noah Feague-Johnson. (Submitted photo)

FELTON — Freddie Johnson has seen Noah Feague-Johnson run the triple-option countless times.

When his son decided he wanted to be a quarterback, Johnson, Lake Forest High’s head football coach, tried to instill in him the finer points of running the Spartans’ triple-option system. It meant a lot of practicing.

“He has to make split-second decisions whenever we run that option,” Johnson said.

“The only way you’re going to get good at that is by repetition over and over and over. I can’t tell you how many times he has run that same option play.”

All that repetition has developed Feague-Johnson into a pretty good football player. The senior was named first team All-Henlopen Southern Division this week.

He has helped lead Lake Forest (8-2) back to the DIAA Division II state tournament for the second year in a row. The Spartans earned the sixth seed and will travel to face No. 3 Wilmington Friends (8-1) on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Tower Hill.

Lake Forest is searching for its first state tournament victory since it won the state title in 1995.

Feague-Johnson has been immersed in the triple-option system since the eighth grade. He became the varsity starting quarterback last year as a junior and the Spartans are undefeated against Henlopen South opposition with him under center and have a pair of division titles because of it.

Lake’s record with Feague-Johnson as the starting quarterback is 18-3.

“It’s second nature now,” Feague-Johnson said about the offense.

The choice of whether to keep the ball, hand off to the fullback or pitch to a running back is all on Feague-Johnson’s shoulders. He is also in charge of reading the defense at the line of scrimmage in case he needs to switch to a different option play.

And once the ball is snapped, he needs to make a split-second decision on what to do with it when the option is called.

“It happens in the blink of an eye,” Feague-Johnson said.

“This offense is run off of you when you’re the quarterback,” he added. “You have to know everybody’s job, where they’re going and you have to have the tools to change the play, read the defense and make the right decisions.”

This season Feague-Johnson has ran the ball 69 times for 626 yards — an average of nine yards a carry. He also has scored 10 rushing touchdowns.

It’s the seventh season Johnson has been using this type of offense at Lake Forest. He says this year he has called triple-options plays more than any other season.

“We’ve had some good quarterbacks in the past like Ridge Betts, Ty’Kee Scott and Josh Webb,” Johnson said. “Noah is right up there with those guys.”

Johnson pointed to last year’s homecoming game against Laurel as the turning point in Feague-Johnson’s career.

Both teams entered the contest unbeaten in the Henlopen South and Feague-Johnson helped engineer a 36-7 Spartan win.

“We called the option a couple times and he made some really good decisions,” Johnson said. “I was like, ‘Man, this is starting to click.’ It made it a little bit easier because we knew we could just call option and he would make those reads.”

This season Feague-Johnson found himself surrounded by a mostly brand-new supporting cast in the background.

His two fullbacks, Amir Whiter and Elle Harden, are in their first year as starters while Ben Moore, the primary pitch-man, is also a first-time starter. Running back Trevon Milton played sparingly last season but has seen a huge increase in carries this year.

Even with the inexperience, Feague-Johnson said he wasn’t too concerned with the fact that the Spartans had to replace All-State fullback John Flamer and star running back D.J. Cornish coming into the season.

“I wasn’t really worried because I knew we had some incredible talent waiting,” Feague-Johnson said. “I’m proud of all of them. They’ve done an excellent job.”

“What got us here was working hard and improving,” Johnson said. “The coaches worked hard to get the kids prepared each week. That’s why we’re here.”

The Spartans have experienced some tough losses during their 20-year drought without a playoff win.

Last year Lake Forest fumbled in the red zone on a potential game-winning drive against seventh-seed Hodgson in the first round. That fumble was returned for a touchdown and led to a 22-13 defeat. In 2010, the Spartans lost to Archmere by a point despite beating the Auks in the regular season.

Johnson is expecting another tight matchup against Wilmington Friends, who is coached by Bob Tattersall, Delaware’s all-time winningest coach.

“They don’t make a lot of mistakes,” Johnson said. “They’ve got a coach who’s been there for 40 years. We know they’re going to be consistent and do the right things so we know we’re in for a battle.”

Notes

Delaware 105.9 FM will broadcast the Lake-Friends game on Saturday. It will also have the Sussex Tech at Middletown matchup tonight at 7:30 p.m. … WDEL 1150 AM and 101.7 FM will broadcast the Smyrna-Mount Pleasant game tonight at 7:30 p.m. and the Woodbridge at Delaware Military contest Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

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