After taking photos with family, friends and his coach, Anthony Franco was the last one off the field.
He was enjoying the moment of his last home game as a senior following Lakeview’s 48-14 victory over Struthers that put the Bulldogs in position to possibly win the AAC White championship.
“We’re hoping everything plays out right,” the quarterback said of a 2-1 record that finalized league competition. “Hopefully, we’ll win a championship. We’ve done all we could.”
Franco was 10 of 11 for 193 yards in the air with touchdown passes of 44 yards to Austin Haines and 46 yards to Elijah Henderson.
The 6-foot-4 Henderson had seven catches for 133 yards, while Haines had three receptions for 60.
Franco also ran 45 yards for a TD.
Other running touchdowns came from freshman Mike Mannella on back-to-back tallies of 5 and 22 yards as well as a 15-yarder by Ryan Scott 15 run and Trevor West’s 1-yard plunge.
Struthers’ Dave Stewart scored on the game-opening drive and Mike Kunzer’s 3-yard pass from Tommy Kimbrough accounted for the Wildcats’ other TD.
“Offensively, we’ve got weapons,” coach Tom Pavlansky said of Lakeview’s strike just two minutes after Struthers (4-4, 1-1) took a 7-0 lead. Franco’s TD pass to Haines and Jake Pishotti’s point-after-kick tied the game 7-7. Franco’s 45-yard TD put Lakeview ahead for good.
“Our kids have worked hard and gotten better, both up front on offense and, tonight, on defense against a good offensive team,” Pavlansky said. “I’m happy for the seniors going out with a win in their last home game. We’ve got a chance [to win the AAC], but we need things to happen.”
The coach is equally excited that his Bulldogs (4-4) still have some opportunities — and challenges — against East and Champion.
“Our kids want to make the most of it.”
Franco felt good that practice paid off and that his cast and pad are off, too.
Franco was feeling good for another reason: playing for the first time with nothing on his left hand.
“I got hurt in Week 1 and wore a cast for four weeks, then took it off and had a pad and took it off for this game,” said the quarterback who had 54 yards rushing, while Mannella picked up 37 and Scott 34.
Stewart was injured in the third quarter and Mike Kunzer came in and eventually scored.
“He was dinged up, but may be able to come back,” said Struthers coach Mark Asher, who noted that two holding penalties killed drives, especially after Kimbrough and Dylan Duchek hooked up for a 47-yard gain.
“We went down and scored, then throw a nice pass for a big gain to get inside the 20 and we have a penalty to strap us with 2nd-and-33 down. We shot ourselves in the foot a couple times.”