Written by Matt Wixon
Wixon: Lancaster's defense championship-caliber in shut-down win vs. Kimball
Lancaster was inconsistent on offense, struggled in the red zone and killed itself with penalties Friday night. The Tigers obviously still have a lot to figure out.
But Lancaster has figured out defense, which showed in its 28-6 victory over Kimball at Sprague Stadium. And as the Tigers try to piece together a championship contender, their cornerstone will be a defense that can break opponents apart.
“I was so proud of the defense, and especially the defensive line,” coach Chris Gilbert said. “They were really getting out there and fighting off blocks.”
It’s quite a fight just to block the front seven of Lancaster, which is No. 2 in the Class 4A area rankings. Led by defensive end Daeshon Hall, who is orally committed to Washington, Lancaster (3-0) dominated the line of scrimmage.
Kimball (2-1) managed only 191 total yards, less than star running back Teriyon Gipson had averaged himself through two games. Gipson, who entered the game averaging 11 yards per carry, managed only 75 yards on 24 runs.
“We were really trying to shut Teriyon Gipson down,” Gilbert said. “He’s pretty much their go-to guy.”
The go-to guy for Lancaster’s offense was Joseph Paden, who rushed 15 times for 104 yards and two touchdowns. He was the bulk of the offense during Lancaster’s best drive of the night, a nine-play, 90-yard touchdown drive that gave Lancaster a 21-6 lead early in the fourth quarter.
Lancaster finished with 352 yards of offense, but it struggled for most of the game against No. 7 Kimball.
“We were ugly at times. We were ugly a lot of the time,” Gilbert said. “But we made the plays when we needed to get it done.”
Kimball’s first drive of the game was a 12-play, 71-yard march that included an impressive over-the-shoulder catch by receiver Prentavious Moorehead. The 34-yard reception helped set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Gipson that gave Kimball a 6-0 lead.
Lancaster tied the score on its next drive, and after an interception by Marquise Williams, it needed only two plays to take the lead. Nick Harvey ran 48 yards to the Kimball 11-yard line and Demarcus Ayers ran into the end zone on the next play.
That was all Lancaster would need with its defense, which also scored when linebacker Derrick Leonard returned an interception 52 yards for the final touchdown. The Tigers’ defense was dominant, just as it was a week ago when it held Tyler John Tyler, then the state’s top-ranked 4A team, to only 105 yards on 45 carries.
Lancaster’s victory over John Tyler stunned a lot of people, but the Tigers proved Friday that the win wasn’t a fluke.
“‘Are y’all going to have a letdown?’” Gilbert said. “Everyone was asking me that all week.”
Lancaster probably did have a bit of a letdown Friday. But even a little off its game, Lancaster plays a pretty good one.
“To me, this proves we’re a contender,” Gilbert said. “This is definitely a team that could’ve beaten us.”
Follow Matt Wixon on Twitter at @mattwixon.