Strong rushing attack key for 2018 Spartans

Shyron Salandy. (Special To The Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

FELTON — Running the football has not been a problem for the Lake Forest High football program through the first four weeks of the season.

Led by the team’s backfield duo of sophomore Isaiah Johnson and senior Ja-Juan Reid, the Spartans (2-2) have put up 1,057 yards on 135 carries (7.8 yards per carry).

Johnson has a team-high 443 yards and four touchdowns on the ground, with Reid adding another 289 yards and four touchdowns.

“Oh, we can run the football,” said Lake coach Fred Johnson. “We’re over 1,000 yards in four games; Isaiah has over 400 yards, Ja-Juan has almost 300 yards. So, we can definitely run the football, that hasn’t been a problem at all. Our line is doing a pretty good job and they’re getting better and better.”

Senior quarterback Shyron Salandy, entering his first season as the everyday starter under center, has rushed for another 149 yards with four total touchdowns as he gets comfortable in his new position as the leader of the offense.

“The kids voted him captain and he was dedicated to the weight room this summer, putting in the extra time and the extra work, so he’s been a leader not only in the quarterback position but in the weight room and over the summer as well,” Johnson said of Salandy.

“He has a lot of passion, he wants to win. He’s made a couple of mistakes that he’s learned from and I’ve seen him getting better and better every week.”

After serving as the backup quarterback behind then-senior Desaun Bizzell last season, Salandy has noticed a big difference between seeing occasional reps under center and taking on the full workload as the starting quarterback.

“It’s different being the starter. You’re sitting on the sideline saying ‘I can do this, I can do that’ but when you’re actually out there in the fire making all the decisions and everything’s on you, he’s got a better understanding of what’s expected from the position and how he needs to be in order for us to be successful,” Johnson said.

“I think I’m improving every day,” said Salandy. “I think the biggest difference for me is intensity. As starting quarterback, I have to know what defense they’re in, what rotations they do and everything. As second-string last year, me making my reads wasn’t as important as Bizzell making his reads.”

Defensively, senior defensive lineman Seth Fleming has racked up 3.0 sacks and 6.0 tackles for loss.

Juniors Kristopher Thompson and Dylan Auen each have a team-high 21.0 total tackles through four games, with Thompson also leading the team in tackles for loss (11.0).

“I think we’re a lot faster on defense this year,” Johnson said. “We have a lot more team speed and we’re really able to get to the football.”

Lake dropped its Week 1 match-up, 14-12, to a Wilmington Friends squad that made a 2017 DIAA semifinals appearance.

It was a game the Spartans could have won had they not lost two fumbles deep inside Wilmington Friends territory and have two touchdowns called back by penalties.

“We didn’t help ourselves, we fumbled twice inside the five-yard line,” Johnson said. “Wilmington Friends is a good team every year, and to play in a type of game with them just let our kids know that we have a very good and competitive team this year.”

“For me, it was like ‘whoa, we can really hang with these teams this year.’ Last year we lost to them 42-7, so for us to come back and only have them beat us by two – and I really feel like we could’ve won that game – everybody is out here working hard because of that,” Salandy said of the Week 1 loss.

The Spartans picked up a Week 2 blowout win over Tatnall, 43-7, before dropping a 40-16 loss to A.I. DuPont in Week 3.

Lake’s latest game, a 33-22 Week 4 win over Caravel Academy last Friday, improved Lake to 2-2 on the season.

A win over Indian River (1-3) today would put Lake above .500 for the first time since the 2015 season.

“IR, they haven’t been having a lot of success, but this is high school football,” Johnson explained. “It can all come together on Friday night, and if we take them lightly and they’re coming together, anything can happen. You can’t take anybody lightly in our division, we’re just playing every game like it’s an important game.”

“We’re out here practicing hard, trying to win the South,” Salandy said. “We’re trying to make the playoffs this year, we’re not playing around.”

Reach staff writer Ben Heck at bheck@newszap.com

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